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Fred Greenstein, Princeton University Professor of Politics
Allan Lichtman American University, Chair, Department of History

Loyal and experienced

Cheney a Washington insider with a long political resume

"I am proud to announce that Dick Cheney, a man of great integrity, sound judgement and experience, is my choice to be the next vice president of the United States." Texas Gov. George W. Bush on Dick Cheney.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Richard "Dick" Cheney brings two key elements to the 2000 Republican presidential ticket: a wealth of political experience and loyalty to two generations of the Bush family.

Cheney represented Wyoming in the House of Representatives for six terms before being tapped by President George Bush in 1989 to serve as defense secretary. Cheney was not Bush's first choice but Sen. John Tower was rejected by Senate Democrats.

Cheney was at the helm of the Pentagon during the Persian Gulf War and during the first rounds of post-Cold War military cutbacks.

After Bill Clinton's victory in 1992, Cheney moved into private industry. But earlier this year, he was tapped by another Bush, this time Texas Gov. George W. Bush, to head the running mate selection process.

But Bush evidently got along so well with Cheney, he convinced Cheney to take the job instead. Cheney's reputation for quiet counsel and his steadfast service to his father appealed to Bush, who places a high premium on loyalty. Cheney's resume, especially his international policy experience, helps round out the ticket as Bush's main policy weak point is international relations.

No stranger to the White House

Cheney is well-known at the White House, having not only served there during the Bush administration but also in the Ford administration.

Cheney came to Washington in 1968, where he was a congressional fellow and became a protege of Illinois Republican Rep. Donald Rumsfeld, a close friend of Gerald Ford, who was then House minority leader.

When Ford tapped Rumsfeld to be his chief of staff in 1974, Rumsfeld made Cheney his deputy. In 1975, Rumsfeld moved over to the Pentagon to serve as defense secretary and Cheney succeeded his boss, becoming at age 35 the youngest chief of staff in White House history.

Cheney held the post for 14 months and managed Ford's 1976 presidential election bid against Jimmy Carter. After Ford's defeat, Cheney returned to Wyoming, where he ran for the state's sole congressional seat in 1978.

He won the seat easily and his experience in the Ford White House proved helpful. At the start of his second term, he became chairman of the Republican Policy Committee by beating out a fellow Republican with more seniority.

He quickly rose within the GOP power chain as one of President Reagan's most ardent supporters, backing him up on military issues like the "Star Wars" missile defense system. He was elected House Minority Whip in 1988.

Moderate image, conservative voting record

Cheney developed an image as a pragmatic moderate in Congress, partly due to his friendly demeanor. But his voting record is hard-core conservative. He voted against Democrats on almost every social issue -- including abortion rights, gun control and the Equal Rights Amendment.

He consistently opposed funding of Head Start and voted against creating the U.S. Department of Education.

He also voted to aid the Nicaraguan contras and against the override of Reagan's veto of a bill imposing sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa.

He took an especially hard line on gun control issues. He was one of just 21 members of Congress who voted against a 1985 ban on armor piercing bullets, so-called cop killer bullets.

In 1988, he was one of only four members of the House voting against a ban on plastic guns that could slip through airport security machines undetected. The National Rifle Association did not oppose this ban.

On the environment, Cheney opposed re-funding the Clean Water Act. He voted to postpone sanctions slapped on air polluters that failed to meet pollution standards. And he voted against legislation to require oil, chemical and other industries from making public records of emissions known to cause cancer, birth defects and other chronic diseases.

His wife, Lynne Cheney, also garnered a reputation as a conservative during her tenure as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities during the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Taking charge at the Pentagon

Cheney wasn't President Bush's first choice for defense secretary. Bush initially chose Texas Sen. John Tower but Tower withdrew his name during a contentious series of Senate confirmation hearings over allegations of drinking and womanizing.

Cheney, however, was easily confirmed by a vote of 92-0, and quickly asserted his authority, establishing himself as the Pentagon's undisputed chief.

Shortly after taking office, he publicly rebuked Air Force Gen. Larry Welch for appearing to negotiate with Congress over nuclear missile deployments. He fired another Air Force general, Chief of Staff Michael J. Dugan, after he talked with reporters in unusual detail about U.S. war plans in the Persian Gulf in September 1990, a month after Iraq invaded its southern neighbor, Kuwait.

Cheney soon found himself advising President Bush on how to evict the forces of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein from the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

He also successfully completed a touchy diplomatic mission, convincing Saudi Arabian King Fahd to allow a large contingent of U.S. forces into his kingdom for an expected invasion of Kuwait.

According to retired Gen. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it was Cheney who rejected Desert Storm commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's first battle plan as "disappointing" and pushed for a full-scale ground invasion, despite his fears of high casualties.

After the successful conclusion of the Persian Gulf War, Cheney oversaw a 25 percent reduction in the size of the military. The Pentagon budget was slashed by billions, including cuts in Star Wars funding and the closure of hundreds of military installations overseas.

He entered the private sector after Bush's defeat in 1992. In 1995, Cheney became chairman and chief executive officer of Dallas-based Halliburton Corp., one of the world's leading engineering and construction firms, mainly of oil companies.

Under Cheney's guidance, the company's stock price and profits have soared. In 1998, he made $2.2 million in salary and controlled another $10 million in Halliburton stock.

Cheney came under criticism due to Halliburton's parting gift to him of about $20 million. Cheney has pledged to forgo part of the gift if the GOP ticket wins.

A history of heart trouble

The son of an Agriculture Department worker, Cheney was born on January 30, 1941, in Lincoln, Nebraska. When he was 13, the family moved to Casper, Wyoming.

After graduating from high school, Cheney went to Yale University on a full scholarship. But he struggled academically at the Ivy League school, heading home after one year to take up studies at the University of Wyoming, where he renewed his relationship with his high school sweetheart, Lynne Vincent. The two were married on August 29, 1964.

An admittedly poor student, Cheney reapplied himself and earned a bachelor's and master's degree in political science before heading to the University of Wisconsin in 1966 to pursue a doctorate.

Cheney has never served in the military. Between 1963 and 1965, Cheney received four student deferments and got a deferment in 1966 for being married and an expectant father. Soon after that, he was 26 years old and no longer draft age.

In 1968, Cheney gave up his doctoral studies for his first job in Washington as a congressional fellow in the office of Republican Rep. William Steiger of Wisconsin.

Cheney has had a history of health problems. He suffered his first heart attack during his first campaign for Congress and revealed the issue in a letter to Wyoming Republicans, insisting he was fit to campaign.

Cheney suffered new heart attacks in 1984 and again in 1988, a day before his 47th birthday. Later that year, he had a quadruple bypass operation at George Washington University Hospital in the nation's capitol.

Before joining the Bush ticket, he was given clean bill of health by his doctors in Washington. His health records also were reviewed by Dr. Denton Cooley, a renowned heart surgeon in Houston, at the suggestion of former President Bush. Cooley, a Bush family friend, told the Texas governor that Cheney was fit for the vice president's office.

Cheney was living in Dallas, Texas, when Bush tapped him for the ticket. But he also maintains a residence in Jackson, Wyoming, and changed his voting registration from Texas to Wyoming to avoid violating the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits members of the electoral college from casting votes for presidential and vice presidential candidates from the same state.

Cheney and his wife have two daughters, Elizabeth, 34, and Mary 31. Mary initially attracted publicity because she is openly gay and, until May, she worked for Coors Brewing Co. as liaison to the gay community. The Bush campaign and the Cheneys have declined to discuss Mary Cheney's personal life.

Cheney's religion is Methodist and his hobbies are mostly outdoors-related, including backpacking, bicycling, camping, fishing, horseback riding, jogging and river-rafting. He and his wife also co-authored a 1983 book about the history of the House of Representative entitled, "Kings of the Hill."

Lynne Cheney has served as a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 1993 to the present. She also is the author of "Telling the Truth," a book on the social impact of cultural trends.

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