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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Dick Cheney - Bush's elder statesman

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

Mr Cheney had been placed in charge of finding the right person for the job; few expected him to find himself.

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

He is a conservative, though like the Texas Governor, a moderate one.

Dick Cheney and Colin Powell in Saudi Arabia, 1991
Addressing the troops: Dick Cheney earned respect during the Gulf War
He has also suffered ill health, needing quadruple bypass surgery after three mild heart attacks in 1988.

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, has seen off all younger, fitter, more hotly-tipped and higher-profile contenders to snatch the job himself.

The move takes Mr Cheney back into the political fray at the age of 59.

I think that he brings enormous qualifications to the position

Current defence secretary William Cohen
His gravitas and foreign affairs experience lie behind his selection, an area which had been perceived as a possible weakness in the Bush campaign.

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

Teenage sweetheart

This is not the first time Nebraska-born Mr Cheney has turned his life around from the possibility of obscurity.

He 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 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 snr.

Dallas to Dynasty

So sure did Mr Cheney seem of retirement, that until last week 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 late last week to change his voter registration.

Now setting to work for the second generation of the Bush dynasty, Mr Cheney could yet 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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