Program Note: Tune in to AC360° at 10p ET tonight for the latest on the war of words between Cheney and Biden.
Vice President Dick Cheney will soon be handing the Vice Presidency over to Joe Biden, but not before first questioning whether the newcomer is up to the job of filling his shoes.
This Sunday, Cheney, who has had unprecedented influence on policy, was asked about reports that his successor sees the scope of the office differently from the way Cheney does.
"If he wants to diminish the office of vice president, that's obviously his call," Cheney answered. "I think that President-elect Obama will decide what he wants in a vice president. And apparently, from the way they're talking about it, he does not expect him to have as consequential a role as I've had during my time."
Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander fired back:
"Only Vice President Cheney would think that putting the Vice Presidency in its proper constitutional role "diminishes" the office. What the American people want from a Vice President is not boasting about how much power they have, but rather, a promise to use that power for the right purposes.
But Biden told CNN's Larry King Monday that he does still expect to have the president's ear.
"My role as vice president is unlike some of the others. I've asked for no specific portfolio – that is, I take care of the environment or one particular area – and that I be essentially his counselor-in-chief."
The shape of any vice presidency is driven more by the president's wishes than the vice president's, says Prof. Stephen Wayne of Georgetown. "In his first year, the president said Dick Cheney has a lot of power. That's what I want: I'm delegating a lot to him. I don't think Barack Obama is going to delegate that much to Joe Biden."
Biden also criticized how Cheney used his influence, particularly in shaping the fight against terrorism.
"The advice that he has given to President Bush," Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "has been not healthy for our foreign policy, not healthy for our national security. And it has not been consistent with our Constitution, in my view."
But Cheney defended his record.
"I think the fact that we were able to protect the nation against further attacks from Al Qaeda for 7.5 years is a remarkable achievement. To do that, we had to adopt some unpopular policies that have been widely criticized by our critics."
He also made no apologies for once telling Senator Leahy (D – VT,) "go (expletive) yourself."
"I thought he merited it at the time, and we've since, I think, patched over that wound and we're civil to one another now."
In November, the Cheneys hosted the Bidens for a visit at the official residence, and gave them a tour – even though during the campaign, Biden called Cheney "the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history."
But asked on Sunday whether he had any advice for his successor, Cheney replied, "Well, he hasn't asked me."
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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