Republican National Convention
Monday, July 31, 2000

Cheney set to 'fire away'


Candidate warns Gore on attacks

By John Hanchette
Gannett News Service

        PHILADELPHIA — Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, insists he's not going to be a campaign attack dog, the traditional role for the No. 2 man on the ticket.

        But on four Sunday morning talk shows, Mr. Cheney delivered a pretty good imitation of one, and he offered a blunt warning to Vice President Al Gore and Democratic presidential campaign strategists.

        “We are prepared to counterpunch,” Mr. Cheney told Tim Russert on NBC's Meet the Press. “If they insist on running a negative campaign, they won't get a free ride. We're prepared to fire away.”

        On Fox News Sunday Mr. Cheney acknowledged to host Tony Snow that his low-key, monotone style is not geared toward campaign assault tactics: “If you're looking for a slash-and-burn artist or somebody who can get up and give a stirring, tub-thumping speech, I'm not your guy.”

        But, he warned, “We'll counterpunch — we won't sit quietly and let them attack us.”

        On the Fox program, Mr. Cheney hammered Mr. Gore for desultory performances on the Senate Armed Services Committee while Mr. Cheney was secretary of defense.

        “He wasn't very active at that time as a member. He didn't attend many of the meetings. He had a couple of issues he was concerned about or interested in, but most of the time he was not an activist committee member. ... I'm not a big Al Gore fan.”

        Mr. Cheney also appeared on CBS' Face the Nation, defending his conservative voting record as a member of Congress. He said he voted against formation of the Department of Education because he thought the subject was being handled adequately by the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare — and voted against the Equal Rights Amendment because he felt it could subject women to involuntary military service.

        One subject brought up by interviewers Sunday is likely to surface again: the sexual orientation of his daughter Mary Cheney, 31.

        She recently left a longtime job with the Coors Brewing Co. to enroll in graduate business school at the University of Colorado. At Coors, her job as a marketing representative was to describe the company to homosexuals, and help end their two-decade boycott of Coors for conservative corporate positions.

        The Washington Post reported recently that Mr. Cheney eschewed entering the 1996 presidential race because he wanted to make sure “a gay relative” did not come under the media spotlight.

        Asked on the Fox show if evangelist Jerry Falwell's recent mention of Mary Cheney's sexual orientation was legitimate public fodder, Mr. Cheney curtly replied:

        “I've got two daughters. They are fine women. I'm very proud of both of them.”

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