- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Texas Gov. George W. Bush is expected to name Richard B. Cheney as his vice-presidential running mate on the Republican ticket today, capping several days of increasingly frenzied media speculation over whom his choice might be.
Mr. Bush in Austin, Texas, late yesterday said only that he has made a decision on a running mate but added that he had not yet notified his choice.
His spokeswoman, Karen Hughes, however, did not knock down media reports that Mr. Cheney, a six-term congressman from Wyoming and defense secretary in President Bush's administration, was the choice.
At midday, she said, "Governor Bush said that nothing should be considered final … until he places a call to an individual. He has not made that phone call. Until Governor Bush has made a call to ask someone to be a vice-presidential nominee, it is premature to speculate."
By early evening, the Associated Press and major television networks citing unnamed sources close to the Texas governor said Mr. Cheney, 59, had the job.
After those reports, the Bush camp issued a statement from Mrs. Hughes. "Governor Bush tonight said he has made his decision on a vice-presidential nominee but has not yet notified that individual or told anyone else about his choice," she said.
In a "note to media," Mrs. Hughes said, "The governor has asked us all not to comment further until we notify you that he is prepared to make an announcement. At that point, we will issue a news advisory with the time and place."
But the only man who knows for sure was mum yesterday.
"No news today. No news today. No news today," Mr. Bush told reporters scurrying for word of his choice outside the governor's mansion in Austin. "I will let you know soon."
That promise didn't stop the media from speculating.
CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported in early afternoon that Mr. Bush and his father were making a last-ditch effort to persuade retired Gen. Colin Powell to join the ticket and that Gen. Powell's wife had dropped long-held objections.
But an aide to the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf war disputed the report even if she didn't flat out say he wasn't interested in the No. 2 job.
"There is absolutely no substance to Mr. Rather's report. General Powell's position remains unchanged. There have been no conversations of the kind suggested by Mr. Rather," said Powell spokeswoman Peggy Cifrino.
Gen. Powell, 62, has repeatedly said he is not interested in the job. "You have to have a certain feeling for it, a certain commitment, passion. But this old soldier didn't have it," Gen. Powell said in March.
That left Mr. Cheney, chosen by Mr. Bush to lead the search for a vice-presidential candidate who himself emerged late last week as a leading contender for the job. Throughout the weekend, there were signs that Mr. Cheney was getting his house in order for a spot on the ticket, rather than merely wrapping up the selection process.
He changed his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming, where he owns a home, to avoid a constitutional complication in the Electoral College involving running mates residing in the same state. He told associates at Halliburton Co. in Dallas, where he serves as chief executive officer, that he had a good chance of getting the job and leaving the company.
(He sold nearly half his interest in Halliburton stock some 100,000 shares last month, raising an estimated $5.1 million. Before the sale, Mr. Cheney held options on 229,000 shares, the AP reported.)
And he got a satisfactory health report from his doctor forwarded to a Houston heart surgeon who had been asked to serve as an intermediary by former President George Bush Mr. Cheney suffered three mild heart attacks by age 48 and underwent coronary bypass surgery in 1988.
Asked yesterday about Mr. Cheney's past heart problems, Mrs. Hughes said, "I can assure you that anyone who is a potential candidate has been fully vetted for legal, financial, their record and their medical history."
Other candidates under consideration have included Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri and Rep. John R. Kasich of Ohio. Mr. Kasich told friends over the weekend that he doubted he would be chosen, said a Republican source. Mr. Danforth said he didn't want the job, but would serve if selected.
Mr. Bush reportedly has told Republicans that when he announces his running mate, "your eyes will light up with excitement."
While their eyes might not exactly light up, Republicans generally and conservatives in particular appeared united around Mr. Cheney over just about any other name that has been mentioned by the Bush campaign or by the news media.
Mr. Cheney brings to the table solid conservative credentials. The National Right to Life Committee Inc. in Washington gave Mr. Cheney a 100 percent rating on his pro-life voting record in the House, where he represented Wyoming from 1979 to 1989.
"Like Al Gore, on June 26, 1984, Mr. Cheney voted in favor of the Siljander Amendment to amend a federal civil rights bill to say that 'the term person' shall include unborn children from the moment of conception," the committee said in a statement.
In addition, Mr. Cheney expressed support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution to guarantee the right to life of all human beings, regardless of their stage of development. However, no such amendment came to a vote during his tenure in the House. In 1988, Mr. Cheney was a co-sponsor of the "President's Pro-Life Bill," which expressed disagreement with Roe vs. Wade and which would have permanently banned federal funding of abortion, except to save the life of the mother.
In 1983, Mr. Cheney voted against House approval of the proposed federal "Equal Rights Amendment," partly on the basis of the House Democratic leadership's refusal to permit consideration of an "abortion-neutral" amendment to prevent the ERA from being used as a pro-abortion legal weapon. He also has opposed legislation that would permit assisted suicide.
While defense secretary under President Bush, Mr. Cheney opposed changing the Pentagon's ban on homosexuals in the military. Under President Clinton, the Pentagon has operated under a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Mr. Boyer reported from Austin; Mr. Hallow from Washington.

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