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Friday, 29 June, 2001, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Cheney: Bush's elder statesman

Dick Cheney has risen to become one of the most active and influential vice presidents in history, playing a key role in shaping President Bush's energy policy.

He is also the administration's main contact with a deeply divided congress.

Mr Cheney often ventured to Capitol Hill to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate before the defection of Senator Jim Jeffords from the Republican party broke the 50-50 tie.

Mr Cheney was chosen as vice-president in part for his foreign policy experience and he attends Mr Bush's meetings with world leaders.

And he serves as a draw for Republican fundraisers, seen as key in filling party coffers for the pitched battle for Congress during midterm elections.

In the early stages of George W Bush's presidential campaign, only the smartest money would have been on Dick Cheney to emerge as his running mate.

Although formerly a high-profile member of the US government, he had been out of the political limelight for much of the past decade.

Dick Cheney and Colin Powell in Saudi Arabia, 1991
Addressing the troops: Dick Cheney earned respect during the Gulf War
He has suffered ill health, needing quadruple bypass surgery after three mild heart attacks in 1988. And he has twice been admitted to hospital with chest pains since election day.

He has even described himself as a "recuperating politician", after abandoning public life to be an oil executive in Dallas, Texas.

But the veteran Mr Cheney, credited with masterminding the US success in the Gulf War, saw off all younger, fitter, more hotly-tipped and higher-profile contenders to snatch the vice-presidency.

The move took him back into the political fray at the age of 59.


I think that he brings enormous qualifications to the position

Former Defence Secretary William Cohen
He is a conservative, though like Mr Bush, a moderate one.

His gravitas and foreign affairs experience lay behind his selection, an area which had been perceived as a possible weakness in the Bush campaign.

He is widely respected within the Republican party, as a man of sincerely-held conservative beliefs, including firm opposition to abortion.

Teenage sweetheart

Nebraska-born Mr Cheney dropped out of Yale University after just a few terms, and returned to Wyoming, by then the family's home state.

But eventually he returned to his studies at the state university, and renewed his relationship with his teenage sweetheart, Lynne Ann Vincent.

Cheney career
1968: Congress intern
1975: chief of staff for President Ford
1979: elected to Congress for Wyoming
1981: chairman, House Republican Policy Committee
1988: bypass surgery after heart attacks
1989: defence secretary under Bush snr
1995 : chairman and chief executive, Dallas oil firm Halliburton
The couple were married in 1964, and have two daughters.

Mr Cheney's political career in Washington began in 1968, serving first as a congressional intern.

When President Gerald Ford named Mr Cheney as his White House Chief of Staff in 1974, Mr Cheney, 34, became the youngest man in history to hold the post.

His career then took him to Congress, becoming a staunch Reagan supporter before taking the job of defence secretary under George Bush Senior.

Dallas to dynasty

So sure did Mr Cheney seem of retirement, that until recently he was registered as a voter in Texas. That effectively barred him from running for office, as the US constitution prevents president and vice president coming from the state.

It meant a quiet trip to Wyoming to change his voter registration.

By agreeing to work for the next generation of the Bush dynasty, Mr Cheney showed he was prepared for a return to the Washington corridors of power he thought he had left behind him for the oilmen's offices of Texas.

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | Americas
Who runs the Bush White House?
16 May 01 | Americas
Bush's hawks and doves
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