Likely that Cheney will remain as Bush’s sidekick

Tony Venhuizen

Tony Venhuizen

This week, my friend on the left is writing about Sen. John Kerry’s upcoming selection of a running mate. Kerry will be choosing from among scores of qualified individuals, each with positives and negatives.

Political journalists are joining in the fun of the every-four-year-ritual of “Veepstakes” speculation.

Far less attention is being paid to the rather lackluster question of President Bush’s running mate.

Everyone knows that George W. Bush will ask Dick Cheney, his indispensable sidekick and advisor, to serve again as vice-president. Or will he?

The 2004 presidential election is going to be close, and both Bush and Kerry are going to pursue every option to win public support. In such a competitive race, President Bush may be faced with this question: Is Dick Cheney a drag on the ticket?

One can certainly make the argument that Bush would be better off to replace Cheney with a fresh face. Dick Cheney is the embodiment of a good-old-boy insider. Controversies have arisen over his ties to Halliburton, his friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia and his perceived enthusiasm for a war in Iraq. For democrats, Cheney is an attractive target, because he can be drawn into debates about corporate accountability, the wisdom of the war in Iraq, the quality of intelligence prior to the war and the reconstruction in Iraq.

George W. Bush has already said that his running mate will be Dick Cheney, and Cheney has said that he wants to run. But that does not mean the case is closed.

Cheney has had four heart attacks since he’s been in office. If Bush finds that he needs a boost in the polls in September or October, he could privately ask Cheney to step aside. No one would question Cheney if he claimed that ill health forced him to resign from the ticket. And unlike most vice-presidents, who are politically ambitious, Cheney has no further political ambition.

Bush may even entice him with another post in the administration – CIA director, for example.

Who would Bush consider to replace Cheney? The candidates are just as numerous as those that Kerry is considering. Certainly Colin Powell and Rudy Giuliani would be high on the list.

Powell is one of the nation’s most well-respected public figures, and his moderate views on foreign policy would be appealing. It is enticing to voters to have an African-American on the ticket.

Rudy Giuliani is a hero to many after his leadership during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He is rumored to be considering a run for governor or senator in New York, and may be Bush’s attorney general in a second term.

Beyond Powell and Giuliani, the list of possible Republican candidates is endless.

Will Dick Cheney be dumped from the republican ticket? I doubt it.

The last president to dump his running mate was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 . I would bet that, come Election Day, Dick Cheney is the Republican nominee for vice-president.

But in the world of politics, one can always expect the unexpected.

Reach Tony Venhuizen at [email protected].