Enquirer news services
At first, it seemed like it might go down in history as one of those killer debate moments: Vice President Dick Cheney, who presides over the Senate, said he'd never met Sen. John Edwards until their encounter Tuesday night in Cleveland.
"I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session," said Cheney, turning to Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat, whom he faulted for skipping lots of votes. "The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."
But the witticism backfired. Cheney was wrong.
Within an hour, Democrats circulated photographs and video snippets showing Edwards and Cheney standing next to each other on the dais at the Feb. 1, 2001, National Prayer breakfast.
"Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Senator Edwards, friends across the country and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I are honored to be with you all this morning," Cheney said, according to a transcript.
Edwards also met Cheney at the ceremonial swearing-in of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., on Jan. 8, 2003, according to newspaper accounts.
The two had met at least three times: at the prayer breakfast; in April 2001 during a taping of NBC's Meet the Press, and on Jan. 8, 2003, when Edwards accompanied Sen. Elizabeth Dole to her swearing-in by Cheney.
Nevertheless, Lynne Cheney poked fun at the Democrats' criticism of her husband's claim, which he made as a way of contending Edwards had a spotty Senate attendance record.
"It's a really good thing to go to prayer breakfasts. But don't you think the senator ought to go to the Senate once in a while?" Mrs. Cheney asked.
During 2003, as he was beginning his run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Edwards missed 38 percent of the 459 roll-call votes. He's missed all 45 votes held since Sen. John Kerry named him as his running mate in July.
Cheney spokeswoman Anne Womack said Wednesday that the vice president still had no recollection of ever having met Edwards before Tuesday night.
The Kerry campaign said that was remarkable.
Edwards wrong, too
The vice president's gaffe wasn't the only thing called into question during the debate: