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CNN Today

Democrats Go After Dick Cheney's Voting Record

Aired July 25, 2000 - 3:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The crash of Flight 4590 on the minds of many people around the world, including Texas Governor George Bush. As he was preparing to make the official announcement that he had selected Dick Cheney of Wyoming, a former secretary of defense, to be his running mate, he began his remarks by calling for a moment of silence in memories of those who perished -- both on board, the 104 passengers and crew, and the four people on the ground outside Paris.

One person following the announcement very closely: Senate Democrat Barbara Boxer of California. She joins us from the Senate Gallery.

Senator, your musings about this selection?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, Bernie.

First, on behalf of the people of California, I send my condolences to the families who are suffering so much in the aftermath of the crash.

Let me say this: I really thought George W. Bush was going to try move toward the center. And he had a great opportunity to do that with this VP pick. Instead, he chose someone, Dick Cheney, who actually headed his team to find the right person -- which is interesting -- he picked someone who's record in the House, where he served for many years, was so far out of the mainstream that sometimes his votes were one of ten, one of 11, one of 12.

For example, he voted against Headstart -- not many people here vote against Headstart -- child immunization. You look at the women's vote. He voted against the Equal Rights Amendment -- very anti- choice, even anti-family planning. And on the issue of guns -- which is a big issue -- sensible gun laws -- he was one of just a handful to vote against banning terrorist guns, which are those plastic guns which we were warned could get across the metal detectors. He voted against that. So, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I was very surprised.

SHAW: And your reaction to the argument being made by Republicans that he voted the wishes of his constituents?

BOXER: Well, you know, these issues go well beyond -- it is very hard for me to believe that his constituency in Wyoming was against Headstart. If you take polls on these issues, these issues, basically, many cases, 80-20, a lot of these issues. I mean, how can you vote against an amendment that, simply said, the sense of the Congress that we shouldn't cut child nutrition?

I don't believe that the people there would want him to vote that way. So I find it, you know, rather amazing.

SHAW: What does Cheney's selection on the ticket do to -- oh, I will wait for a moment.

BOXER: Excuse me, can you get that away. I am so sorry. The perils of cell phones in live television interviews.

SHAW: But I hope that is not a call that pulls you away from this interview.

BOXER: No, no, no, no. We are not going to be on that long.

SHAW: OK. What does this do to Vice President Al Gore's selection process?

BOXER: I think that he just will do what he was going to do. He is going to find someone, I think, who is in the mainstream of American politics, that kind of sees things the way he does. I think the person will be pro-education, pro-environment, pro-choice. And I think it is going to be a tremendous distinction between the two tickets. The women in the Senate and the House, I will say -- the Democratic women -- just held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court to point out that choice is hanging by a bare 5-4 vote at the Supreme Court.

So, you would think, you know -- Governor Bush had a chance to pick someone pro-choice. He looked at Ridge. I think about Olympia Snowe, who, to my mind, would have been an unbelievable addition to the ticket. And he simply didn't seem to want to go that way. And I think the signal will be to the women of this country, and the men who support the women of this country, that this is probably the most anti-choice ticket we've ever had. We've had a governor who signed 18 anti-choice into law in Texas.

And now we have Dick Cheney, who even votes against family planning and votes for the strictest, toughest bans on abortion, including one vote there, rape, incest, and even one that was life of the mother. It's pretty extreme.

SHAW: One last question.

BOXER: Yes.

SHAW: What is your assessment of him as a person?

BOXER: Dick Cheney is a nice man. You know, he has a nice demeanor and he's nice to talk to. And all of that is very important. But what I want to see in a person who is one heartbeat away from the presidency is someone who will fight for people who need to have a government that responds to them when they're hungry, when they're sick, when they're out of work.

He even voted against extending unemployment benefits for people. So, I want to see compassion. I don't compassion in the voting record. The person is lovely, but it's not there. There is no there. You know, where is the beef in terms of the voting record? It's just not there.

SHAW: Senator Barbara Boxer, Senate Democrat from California. Thanks very much for joining us.

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