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December 22nd, 2008
06:50 PM ET

Cheney v. Biden: War of words

Vice President Dick Cheney.

Vice President Dick Cheney.

Program Note: Tune in to AC360° at 10p ET tonight for the latest on the war of words between Cheney and Biden.

Dugald McConnell
CNN Producer

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."


Filed under: Dick Cheney • Joe Biden • Raw Politics
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Greg

    Interesting to note that the meaning of "consequential" not only refers to important or significant consequences, but also means self-importance and pompous; that the outcome of consequential influence is solely determined by those who wield the influence. I'm not surprised that the shadow president would say what he said about his shadow administration.

    December 22, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  2. earle,florida

    This reminds me of an old cartoon of two chichen-hawks dueling it out for the supreme pecking rights to mate with a capon! All a pathetic brood of strange birds,...

    December 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  3. Stuart in Minneapolis

    The single, solitary way I agree with George Bush:
    When you discover your VP is 99% bitter old man, you hide him. For eight years. In the basement. Now and then you let him out to show he still exists. This is one of those times he's let out to be seen. Warts and all. Sorry, Joe, but it must be done. Oh, by the way Mr. Bush, YOU NEED TO TIGHTEN THE CHOKE CHAIN on ol' Snarly. GRRRR!

    December 22, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  4. JC-Los Angeles

    Cheney is worried about Biden filling his shoes? Does he mean Biden won't be able to look past a group of Saudi nationals taking flying lessons right here on our home turf?

    Or does he think Biden won't be up to the task of rounding up herds of people and detaining them without cause?

    The bar has been set so low, I'm sure even Biden can get over it.

    December 22, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  5. Errol Marquis

    If I was Cheney I would not boast about my position in the government,
    seeing that there is a lame duck President and the country is in a mess, he would be partially responsible for everything

    December 22, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  6. mike

    Cheney already knows that he has been an integral part of a failed administration. His own denial reflects how out of sync that he and the president actually is. The American people have spoken with a loud voice that we are sick of their lack of vision and failed leadership. They have delivered us to a new depression economically, failed foreign policy that has terrorism at an all time high, and they can't even admit their failure. Let it rain shoes on them both! Hey Dick, was that Nun-Bush or a Bush-Puppy?

    December 22, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  7. mike

    Vice President should be wary of " The Shoes" and God forbid somebody filling them with something" I would think that the vice prez would take a cue from what happened to George with " The Shoes" over there.

    December 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  8. mike

    If ole Dick invites you to go quail hunting, send ex-vp Dan Quayle with him in your place. Duck and Cover Dan!

    December 22, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  9. mike

    Vice President elect Biden will look like god compared to the anti-christ personna that Dick has earned. I have a steel toed boot reserved for him to help him out of the white house!

    December 22, 2008 at 7:44 pm |
  10. mike

    It's a no brainer here! A seasoned popular vice president elect would not require any advice from ole' Dick. What advice could the second in command give to him other than offer the best advice of all. That is "Don't do what I did, because I am quite possibly the second most despised executive in the White House". Georgey Boy still reserves that # 1 rank!

    December 22, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    Cheney has been one of the most dangerous VPs we've ever had. He rides roughshod over the Constitution and acts like a despot, and a lot of the trouble our nation is seeing now can be laid at his feet. Bush and Cheney both took an oath to protect and preserve the Constitution but it turned out the Constitution needed protection from them. Whether Americans vote GOP or Democratic they are not voting for anyone to govern outside the boundaries of the Constitution. I don't think Cheney especially understood that.

    December 22, 2008 at 7:02 pm |