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Cheney Says Medical Condition Won't Affect His Job

Aired June 29, 2001 - 11:34   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story this hour: the health of Vice President Dick Cheney; it is once again causing some concern this morning. Earlier today the vice president disclosed that he has been experiencing irregular heartbeats, and he's going to be admitted to a hospital tomorrow for testing. If needed, doctors could go ahead and then implant a pacemaker.

Now as for his job, Cheney said he does not believe that this is going to inhibit his role as vice president, but he will consider every scenario.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there were any inhibition on my ability to function, if it were the doctors' judgment that any of these developments constituted the kind of information that indicated I would not be able to perform, I would be the first to step down. I don't have any interest in continuing in the post unless I'm able to perform adequately.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, our Kelly Wallace has been standing by. She did hear the same announcement as we did, live, from that press briefing at the White House.

Kelly joins us now live.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Leon, exactly right. You know, I have just been told that it was the vice president himself who wanted to come in to the briefing room and talk with reporters extensively about exactly what would be happening tomorrow when he goes to the hospital for those tests.

So the vice president, as we all saw, coming forward, taking a range, a series of questions from reporters, saying that the risks of this procedure are quite minimal. He portrayed it as a routine procedure, saying, 100,000 people every year undergo such a procedure.

Clearly, though, the vice president at the same time knowing that he is the most closely analyzed, in his words, heart patient in the country. And, of course, the vice president knowing that when the vice president goes to the hospital it is big news; especially this vice president, who is playing such a key role in this administration. He led the president's task force to craft an energy plan, and we understand that he is making daily phone calls with members of Congress, to reporters in districts to push the president's energy plan. And I'm told that will continue when the vice president returns to work next week. He is also leading the task force to development alternatives to the Kyoto global warming treaty, which the president believes is fatally flawed.

So, clearly, this vice president playing a key role, and so Mr. Cheney knowing that anything he does when it comes to going to the hospital -- he is someone who has had a history heart disease going back to 1978. So he clearly knows anything he does will be under the microscope.

Now, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary is going to hold his daily briefing with reporters in about 10 minutes from no. He is, of course, expected to get many more questions about this. Not clear, though, if Mr. Fleischer will be able to answer them, since the vice president himself did answer a series of questions earlier. Also, the vice president's doctors, we understand, will be briefing reporters tomorrow following the procedure.

But again, Leon, the word from the vice president: He believes he will be able to keep his duties as vice president. He thinks he can be back to work as early as Monday. But, though, you did hear Mr. Cheney say if his doctors give him other recommendations he will follow that advice -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, good deal. Thanks much, Kelly Wallace at the White House.

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