CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Tommy Franks, Richard Cheney
Aired July 4, 2003 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the four-star general who led the charge that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.
GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, U.S. ARMY: We know that there is no regime command and control in existence right now.
ANNOUNCER: A West Texas native who has stayed true to his down home roots throughout his rise in the military.
DANA PRIEST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Bubba is a name that his friends call him. And I'm sure he appreciates it.
ANNOUNCER: He ran a successful campaign against Iraq, but faced questions about the war plan and his relationship with his boss.
MARK THOMPSON, TIME MAGAZINE: There's always this tension and tug-of-war going on between Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks.
ANNOUNCER: The man who won the war, now faced with a life outside of the military -- retiring General Tommy Franks.
Then, he serves in the shadows as America's Vice President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush very wisely saw in Cheney, someone who wouldn't outshine him.
ANNOUNCER: But he was a driving force behind the war with Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is being called the Bush Doctrine is actually something that Dick Cheney's been working on for more than 10 years.
ANNOUNCER: In his youth he got a wakeup call to change his reckless ways, from his high school sweetheart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could see a person who was going through the period of raising hell and couldn't give a damn about anything.
ANNOUNCER: From small town Wyoming to inside the Beltway, the man some call one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history -- Dick Cheney.
Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST, PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.
He's conquered Kabul and Baghdad, waged war on terror and fought in Vietnam. But after 38 years in uniform, General Tommy Franks is ready to take his boots off.
As one of the heroes of Afghanistan and Iraq prepares to retire, a look at his life on duty. Here's Jonathan Mann.
GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, U.S. ARMY: This will be a campaign unlike any other in history. A campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the general who knocked Saddam Hussein from power.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We gave Tommy the tools necessary to win. We agreed with his strategy, and he's running this war.
MANN: A strategy where coalition forces blitzed their way to Baghdad, taking over a country and taking out a regime in less than a month.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: General Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, called it brilliant. I'm not so sure it was brilliant, but it was certainly clever in places, and very solid and smart in others.
MANN: A war plan forged by debate between a general and his civilian boss.
MARK THOMPSON, TIME MAGAZINE: There's always this tension and tug-of-war going on between Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks. Basically, you hope it's sort of like banging out a piece of iron. The more you bang it, the stronger it's going to get.
MANN: A military victory led by a 58-year-old Vietnam and Gulf War veteran who shuns the spotlight.
DANA PRIEST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Once I interviewed him, and he said, my business is a secret business. And that's really how he feels.
MANN: Tommy Ray Franks was born in Wynnewood, Oklahoma in 1945. His father Ray was a mechanic. His mother Lorene a stay-at-home mom.
When Franks was a young boy, the family moved to West Texas, the area he calls home.
LT. GEN. DAN CHRISTMAN, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): He always comes back to West Texas with stories, with a wonderful history of his own childhood in that part of the country.
MANN: The Franks settled in Midland, Texas. So did another family, although they didn't know one another -- that of future president George W. Bush.
THOMPSON: They are similar. They are very tight with their family. They are men of religious conviction. They're both from the dusty, flat plains of West Texas.
I think those sort of fundamental forges make people, you know, sort of see the world in the same way.
MANN: Franks went to the same high school as future First Lady Laura Bush.
THOMPSON: The two didn't know each other at the time. But associates of the general have told me that that certainly gave them a good, you know, initial icebreaking, bonding thing.
MANN: There's still plenty of Texas left in Franks. He's got a fondness for cowboy boots, and is known to sing country music while walking on his treadmill at 4 o'clock in the morning.
PRIEST: Bubba is a name that his friends call him, and I'm sure he appreciates it. Feet up on the table, smoking cigars with the guys in the receptions.
MANN: Franks went to college at the University of Texas at Austin, but didn't last long there. He dropped out after just two years, because, as Franks has put it, he needed to grow up.
In 1965, Franks enlisted in the Army.
Vietnam was heating up as Franks entered the military. He was chosen for officer candidate school, was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1967, and went off to war.
There, Franks was an artillery officer. He was wounded three times, including taking a bullet that traveled the length of his leg.
FRANKS: I learned the value of trust in people. I learned about the military chain of command.
I didn't have a global view then, but I sure learned a lot.
MANN: Following Vietnam, Franks rose through the ranks, serving in locations from Germany to the Pentagon.
THOMPSON: As an artillery man, he was innovative. He talked and discovered and figured out ways to take on moving columns of armor tanks with artillery fire. This was a pretty radical notion.
FRANKS: I am honored to ride with you anywhere, any time.
MANN: Franks was an assistant division commander in the first Gulf War, overseeing ground troops and helicopters. Franks's rise to the rank of four-star general was also helped by his talent for dealing with others. He's known for his quick wit and a flair for using four-letter words -- a soldier's soldier.
CHRISTMAN: He is very, very close to his troops. And I think one saw this as Iraqi Freedom unfolded.
He was probably his most emotional, his most warm, his most embracing when he was with his soldiers.
MANN: Franks also has a reputation for letting people know when he's unhappy, especially with those who work for him.
THOMPSON: He's a big guy, about 6'3". He envelopes you in his presence. And from people who I've spoken with, who have been yelled at him, it is not a pleasant experience. And it is something he does quite often.
MANN: On the home front, Franks has been married to wife Kathy, a high school history teacher, for 34 years.
FRANKS: My wife reminds me that I told her on the day we were married, I was going to get out of the United States military.
And I remind her that someday I am going to do that.
MANN: The couple have a daughter, Jacqueline, and two grandchildren, who call Franks "Pooh" after the stuffed bear.
In June 2000, Franks was promoted to four-star general and named the head of U.S. Central Command.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You look for someone who is battle tested, battle hardened. Someone who obviously has leadership qualities.
And looking over all the candidates for Central Command, I looked to Tommy Franks.
FRANKS: None of us know what the future holds. But we know there'll be challenges, and there'll be opportunities.
MANN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, the challenges come first. Terrorist attacks and an uneasy relationship with the Secretary of Defense.
PRIEST: They were some rough spots. And there's a lot of talk that Rumsfeld was very harsh with him, very brash, like he is with others.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
FRANKS: That's something you done that. You don't ever do that before, gunny. You all go back to work.
MANN: In 2000, four-star general Tommy Franks was put in charge of U.S. Central Command. It's an area of responsibility that includes 25 countries from the Horn of Africa to Asia, including much of the Middle East and Iraq.
THOMPSON: It's a tough neighborhood. If you look at where our troubles have come from in the last generation, an awful lot of them have come from there.
MANN: Just four months into his command, Franks faced his first major challenge. Terrorists attacked the USS Cole while it was refueling at a port in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed, 39 wounded.
Franks was called to Capitol Hill to explain why.
SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R) VIRGINIA: Why Yemen? Why Yemen, when there are continuing State Department travel warnings in effect for that country?
FRANKS: The decision to use Aden as a refueling port was based on solid military judgment. And I agree with that judgment.
PRIEST: People were looking to pin it on somebody. So I think he caught the wrath of Congress, not because he was necessarily responsible, but because they wanted to blame somebody.
So, terrorism became an obsession right away.
MANN: An obsession that soon became a mission.
The September 11 attacks put Franks on the frontlines of the war against terrorism.
FRANKS: It is indeed an honor to be a part of a war that is righteous in its goals and has the support of the American people.
MANN: Franks's first task was to take out the Taliban in Afghanistan -- a government that had sheltered and supported Osama bin Laden.
O'HANLON: Well, it appears there were actually three key players in the Afghanistan war plan -- General Franks, Secretary Rumsfeld and George Tenet of the CIA, who had a lot of his own operatives already in Afghanistan and poised to enter in greater force.
PRIEST: People, especially Secretary Rumsfeld, came to the quick conclusion, I think, that they needed an unconventional approach to that war.
And it is not clear that Tommy Franks initially was the best suited for that.
O'HANLON: It does appear that Franks's initial instincts on Afghanistan were to have more troops.
MANN: The war plan that developed seemed to favor the ideas of Rumsfeld and Tenet.
O'HANLON: The basic idea still was, let's try to use special forces more. Let's try to make greater use of air power, and let's see if we can't break the back of the enemy government with a strike against its command and control.
MANN: The first month of the war in Afghanistan featured plenty of air strikes, but seemingly few tangible results.
Franks answered questions over whether operations and getting troops on the ground were going too slowly.
FRANKS: It is only those who believe that all of this should be done in two weeks' time or in one month, or perhaps in two months, who are disappointed by this.
MANN: The Taliban collapsed soon afterward.
THOMPSON: By most accounts, you know, folks give General Franks a B. I mean, it was a good performance. It wasn't great, but it was good.
MANN: One area the plan failed was in capturing Osama bin Laden.
O'HANLON: The idea of bombing these Tora Bora Mountains in December of 2001, but having no American forces around those mountains to prevent bin Laden's escape, was a bad idea.
MANN: Franks also faced criticism for not being available to the media.
GEN. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, U.S. ARMY: Five minutes of unimportant questions, all right? Nothing too tough.
MANN: Especially compared to a general who had previously held his job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all due respect, sir, what you hear is, Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf. Your response.
FRANKS: Well, I suppose I'd begin sort of at the end by acknowledging that Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nor vice versa.
FRANKS: Nor vice versa.
THOMPSON: General Franks's reticence with the media has endeared him wonderfully to Secretary Rumsfeld, because despite all of Secretary Rumsfeld's protestations, the fellow is like, you know, a moth to a flame when those TV lights come on.
And, so, Tommy Franks, I think, complements him well. MANN: However, the relationship between Franks and Rumsfeld would reportedly be tested again, during war planning for Iraq. Rumsfeld was asked about the process during the war, and explained how it had started -- by dusting off an old Iraqi war plan.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It didn't reflect any of the lessons from Afghanistan. But it didn't reflect the current state of affairs in Iraq. And it didn't take into account the capabilities of the United States in terms of the shift away from dumb bombs to precision bombs.
And we all agreed that he should develop a plan that would be more appropriate.
MANN: However, developing the plan reportedly had more than its fair share of bumps along the way.
THOMPSON: The sticking point initially was the number of troops. How many was it going to take?
PRIEST: You had Rumsfeld wanting it to be more unconventional, using special operations more. And you had Franks with a war plan that looked much more conventional Army.
O'HANLON: General Franks thought you do this with a big force, perhaps comparable, even, to Desert Storm, maybe even close to half-a- million Americans, for all we know.
And Rumsfeld thought maybe 50,000.
THOMPSON: So, what happened was, Rumsfeld kicked it back, and Franks did slim it down a little bit.
THOMPSON: My understanding is, there were more than 20 versions of the war plan that were proposed before it was ever approved.
MANN: The end result was a hybrid.
O'HANLON: Rumsfeld recognized need for a big force. General Franks won that debate. And then Rumsfeld kept pushing General Franks to produce more creative use of certain capabilities like special forces.
THOMPSON: I think it's really been, based on everyone I've talked to, some of whom despise Rumsfeld, some of whom hate Franks -- they all acknowledge it's been a real team thing.
O'HANLON: So, I would say, General Franks was the author and Secretary Rumsfeld was the editor.
MANN: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, the war plan gets tested and criticized.
MANN: March 19, the strike that launched the war with Iraq. General Tommy Franks's war plan. A strategy that had been debated and worked on for months got a last-minute revision.
Intelligence reports on the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein prompted coalition forces to move up their timetable and launch a decapitation strike against the Iraqi leader.
FRANKS: That target was worked on an amazing timeline.
MANN: The coalition's main strike force, the 3rd Infantry Division, raced towards the heart of the Iraqi government. In eight days, they were just 50 miles from the capital.
FRANKS: We believe that we are on our timeline, as we say. And I am satisfied with what I see up to this point, sir.
MANN: But coalition forces would run into difficulties, most notably, attacks behind the lines by Fedayeen militia groups loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Ground commander General William Wallace was quoted as saying, "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we've war gamed against."
Franks insisted the Fedayeen resistance was not a surprise.
FRANKS: We know that the Fedayeen has in fact put himself in a position to mill about. And I can assure you that contact with those forces is not unexpected.
CHRISTMAN: Were there surprises? Heck yes. There were hundreds of surprises.
But the key point on this is not whether or not there were surprises, but how the coalition reacted to the surprises once they encountered them.
MANN: Franks deployed reserves to help subdue Fedayeen forces and secure the supply lines that stretched over 250 miles.
But military analysts and pundits began asking the same question that had been debated during the war planning: Did Franks have enough troops to do the job?
O'HANLON: All those things were proper things to worry about if you were a military planner or if you were a commentator on television, it was the right thing to talk about. It does not mean the strategy was really in jeopardy.
MANN: Franks himself was asked whether he had wanted a larger force?
FRANKS: No, I did not request additional troops before the beginning of what you refer to as the ground war.
MANN: Questions persisted. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers weighed in.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: There is not one thing that General Franks has asked for that he hasn't gotten on the time line that we could get it to him.
RUMSFELD: I would be happy to take credit for it, but I can't. It was not my plan. It was General Franks' plan and it was a plan that evolved over a sustained period of time, which I am convinced is an excellent plan.
FRANKS: Thank you very much.
MANN: After his initial comments on the troop strength controversy, Franks characteristically stayed out of the media fray. In fact, he appeared at just three organized Central Command press briefings in quarter as the major fighting was going on. His lack of visibility and CENTCOM's carefully orchestrated briefings came under fire.
MICHAEL WOLFF, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": We're no longer being briefed by senior most officers. I guess my question is why should we stay? What's the value to us for what we learn at this million dollar press center?
To show up and not get Franks himself and, in fact, to get a one star general, it's like you expect the CEO of the company but you're getting a middle management representative.
MANN: While Franks stayed out of the spotlight, his coalition forces quickly regained their momentum. Less than a month after the war began, General Tommy Franks was in Baghdad, sitting in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. The city was under coalition control, but Franks faced questions about whether his military strategy had done enough to stop the looting in the capital and across the country.
FRANKS: I think any time you see a bad outcome anyplace, looting or any form of lawlessness, you know, you're always sad. But I don't have any regrets about the way the campaign was conducted.
CHRISTMAN: He probably understood when he went in that there was going to be a risk as a result of that quick movement with respect to stability and the vacuum that unfolded. I think General Franks had to make a call and history will tell whether that call was the right one or not.
MANN: Franks remains the senior military figure for Iraq, as the process of rebuilding the country begins in earnest. Whether he succeeds or fails to accomplish that task will perhaps be the final piece of Franks' legacy.
THOMPSON: He is probably, for Americans, the first American 21st century officer. He is not wedded to the doctrines of the past.
O'HANLON: I'm not sure I would call Franks a genius, but he was the author of two very good war plans, for whatever reason. And he at least knew how to work with Rumsfeld and Myers and others and his own subordinates. At a minimum, you have to give him credit for that.
MANN: Franks' tenure as head of CENTCOM, which was already extended once last year, is scheduled to end in July. As for his future, perhaps not surprisingly, the man from West Texas doesn't have much to say.
(on camera): What's next for you?
FRANKS: Oh, gosh, I don't know. That's up to the secretary and the president.
MANN: Are you going to stay in the Army for a while?
FRANKS: Well, that's up to the secretary and the president.
ZAHN: With General Franks retiring, President Bush has nominated Lieutenant General John Abizaid to take the helm at U.S. Central Command. He happens to be a Harvard graduate and the former commidate of Westpoint. He's also the grandson Lebanese immigrants and a fluent Arabic speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, the low-key vice president who brought his many years of experience to the table.
KEN ADELMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY: They'd never seen a vice president who had so large a portfolio in terms of domestic, congressional and international issues.
ANNOUNCER: The road from Casper to the White House. Dick Cheney. His story is next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
Friends of Vice President Dick Cheney sometimes like to joke that he's always at an undislosed location even when he's sitting right in front of you. In some respects, that's true. Discretion and quiet confidence are Dick Cheney's trademarks. But out of sight does not mean out of the loop.
Dick Cheney is the ultimate insider, working behind the scenes at the White House on everything from the economy to the war on terror. With a look at Dick Cheney's life, his politics and his power, here again is Jonathan Mann.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mention Dick Cheney and the first question is not so much who is he, but where is he? Over the course of his 40 year career, the vice president has been just over the shoulder of some of the key players in American government. In the '60s, there he was in the Nixon White House as an aide to Donald Rumsfeld. In the '70s, as Gerald Ford's chief of staff, leading Congress as minority whip in the '80s, ordering troops into Kuwait as secretary of defense in the '90s and now in 2003, he's right behind President George W. Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vice president is delighted to welcome you to the people's house, too.
JONATHAN MANN: Some say he's the most powerful vice president the United States has ever seen and that he's used his influence to try to turn American foreign policy on its head, by calling for preemptive strikes on perceived enemies.
CARNEY: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney this year rewrote America's foreign policy. They changed the direction of America's foreign policy that had been in place for 50 years, since the Second World War.
JONATHAN MANN: Just days before bombs began to fall on Baghdad, Cheney hit the air waves for the first time in seven months to reinforce the theory behind the war with Iraq.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we simply sit back and operate by 20th century standards with respect to national security strategy in terms of how were going to deal with this, we say wait until we're hit by an identifiable attack from Iraq, the consequences could be devastating for the United States. We have to be prepared to prevent that from happening.
JONATHAN MANN: But aside from the rare Sunday talk show appearance, the vice president works largely in the shadows.
NICHOLAS LEMANN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": If you could project yourself forward in the future 50 years, I think you would probably find that the vice president was very, very influential in every step of the way in deciding to go to this kind of ultimate confrontation with Saddam Hussein.
JONATHAN MANN: Cheney's strength has always been his ability to play the strong supporting role.
ADELMAN: I think bosses throughout Dick's life, including President Ford and now President Bush, have really appreciated his discretion, his good judgment and his view that I'm here to help you, I'm not here to see my face in the paper and I'm not here to get on television. I'm not here to do any of that, I'm here to help you.
QUESTION: Congressman, can we talk to you just a second?
JONATHAN MANN: So how has the low key Cheney been able to climb through the ranks in a city where star quality is the key to success? Friends and colleagues say the answers lie out west, with Cheney's roots. He was born in Nebraska on January 30, 1941. But home to Richard Bruce Cheney has always been a small, quiet town in Wyoming, nestled between scenic mountains, prairies and oil refineries.
JOE MEYER, WYOMING SECRETARY OF STATE: Casper was typical 1950s. Your doors were unlocked. You could stay out late and not worry about the consequences. You could walk two blocks out of town and see pheasant and turkeys. It was a different era with a different mindset.
JONATHAN MANN: Netrona County High School (ph) became the center of life for Dick and he made friends quickly.
MEYER: A group would take my Plymouth convertible out and we would tie a rope to it on an irrigation ditch which was about five miles west of Casper. We would drive up and down the road and hop down there with some boards on our feet and we'd just water ski.
JONATHAN MANN: Friends say Dick didn't much like the spotlight, yet he was senior class president, star halfback and co-captain of the football team, and eventually boyfriend of the school's homecoming queen. Lynn Vincent (ph), the pretty blonde at the top of their class caught Dick's eye.
MEYER: Lynn was a straight A student. They would flinch if I said this, undoubtedly smarter in an I.Q. sense, than Dick was.
JONATHAN MANN: As graduation neared, Lynn was college bound with a full academic scholarship. Dick was just an average student with no university prospects of his own. Until he went to visit Lynn at her after school job and met her boss.
LEMANN: He would spot promising lads in the senior class at the high school in Casper and kind of talk to them and talk to Yale and arrange for them to go to Yale.
JONATHAN MANN: Dick Cheney needed those strings pulled. His grades and his family's lack of finances would have kept him out of the Ivy League under normal circumstances. The leap from small town Wyoming to the wealthy patrician community of Yale was overwhelming.
SIMPSON: It was just disaster, you know. He didn't fit.
JONATHAN MANN: He told his friends he was having a hard time adjusting to the life of fraternities and privilege that surrounded him and he missed having one of his biggest motivators nearby.
MEYER: He had a deep love for Lynn and when they were apart, when he was at Yale, she was at Colorado College. I know they missed each other tremendously.
JONATHAN MANN: Already not the best student, his grades suffered and he was asked to leave the school for a semester or two. Dick returned to Wyoming and took a union job laying power lines. It wasn't the best time for Dick Cheney. SIMPSON: You could see a person who was going through the period of raising hell and not paying attention and didn't give a damn about anything.
JONATHAN MANN: He was arrested twice for drunken driving and after re-enrolling at Yale, his dismal grades forced the school to dismiss him for good.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Dick Cheney gets an ultimatum that changes the course of his life.
SIMPSON: She said, you know, Dick, if this is all you're going to do, that would be very unfair. You would be treating yourself badly.
JONATHAN MANN (voice-over): By the age of 21, Dick Cheney had dropped out of Yale, had several brushes with the law and was working a dead-end job in Wyoming. One thing going for him was his high school sweetheart, Lynn Vincent. But they were on very different paths.
SIMPSON: He worked out on the power lines, you know, out in the wind and the rain and she wasn't about to hook up with him.
JONATHAN MANN: Lynn gave him an ultimatum.
MEYER: I've got to believe it was his deep-seated love for Lynn, he didn't want to disappoint her, that certainly gave him some backbone to keep working as hard as he did.
SIMPSON: You finally light a fire in yourself. You figure why am I drinking like I am, why am I doing this?
JONATHAN MANN: 1964 was the turning point. Finally committed to changing his life, Cheney married Lynn and went back to school at the University of Wyoming at Laramie.
MEYER: He got into political science and it just captured his imagination. It was unbelievable.
JONATHAN MANN: This new passion for politics landed Cheney an internship in the Republican side of the Wyoming state legislature. In 1968, Cheney got a job with the governor of Wisconsin, so the Cheneys moved to Madison and got full scholarships at the University of Wisconsin, a hot bed of student protest at the height of the Vietnam War. Enrolling at the university allowed Cheney to defer the draft and stay home with his growing family.
Politics was a natural fit for Cheney. He was becoming confident and enterprising. When Donald Rumsfeld was chosen by President Nixon to head up the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969, Cheney sent him an unsolicited memo on how to handle his confirmation hearings. The bold move got him a job.
Throughout the next several steps of his career, Rumsfeld would take Cheney along as his deputy. This steady rise through the ranks of government reached its peak when, in 1975, President Gerald Ford made 34-year-old Dick Cheney the youngest White House chief of staff in history.
MEYER: It was something that he truly loved. He loved the politics. He loved the debate. He loved the discussion.
JONATHAN MANN: One year later, Dick Cheney's stint in the White House would be cut short. Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election, leaving Cheney jobless and at a crossroads. For the first time, Cheney's own political ambitions surfaced. And though he had grown comfortable with the fast-paced rhythms of Washington, the down home twang of Wyoming called and he decided to run for a seat in the heavily Democratic U.S. Congress.
ADELMAN: Running in a primary for a Republican seat is the lowest of the low, the lowest form of life, except for paramecium. And so to go from chief of staff to running for the nomination for Republican congressman in Wyoming was, as they say in "Hamlet," oh what a falling off there was.
JONATHAN MANN: Just weeks into the campaign at the age of 37, Dick Cheney's three pack a day smoking habit, poor diet and high stress jobs caught up with him. He had his first heart attack. Cheney refused to give up. He had his wife and daughters hit the campaign trail while he was in his hospital bed. He even made a written plea to voters.
MEYER: "I see the error of my ways. I'll never have another cigarette again. I will exercise. I really do want to be your congressman."
JONATHAN MANN: The people of Wyoming sent him packing back to Washington as their new congressman.
THOMAS MANN: He built friendships within the body and saw himself moving, over time, up the leadership ladder.
JONATHAN MANN: By 1988, his congenial, easygoing ways got him all the way up to minority whip. But all the while Cheney was amassing a voting record more conservative than Newt Gingrich or Trent Lott. Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, against busing to desegregate public schools, against abortion even in cases of rape or incest, against a holiday for Martin Luther King.
ADELMAN: His voting record was a shock because people assume that if you're going to be real conservative you're going to be real mean and have a lousy personality. And what Dick Cheney showed is that you can be real nice, real smart, have a wonderful personality and still be conservative.
CHENEY: Well, good afternoon.
JONATHAN MANN: In 1989, after 10 years in Congress, the White House came calling once again when John Tower, the nominee for defense secretary, was rejected for drinking and womanizing.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dick Cheney is a trusted friend, an adviser.
JONATHAN MANN: The Bush administration needed a candidate who would win easy approval and they thought Cheney fit the bill. And despite some controversy surrounding his lack of service in Vietnam, Dick Cheney became the 17th secretary of defense with a unanimous vote. As Pentagon chief, Cheney maintained his trademark style -- tough, low key, in control. And two years into his term, when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, the master strategist got the chance to strut his stuff on the world stage.
Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Dick Cheney's radical philosophy plays a major role in the second Gulf War.
CARNEY: After 9/11, and this year when George W. Bush needed a doctrine, Dick Cheney had it in his suitcase. He had it ready to go.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
JONATHAN MANN (voice-over): In 1991, pushing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait made Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf super heroes. After years of being a supporting character, Pentagon chief Dick Cheney wanted to bask in the after glow, too.
LEMANN: He thought that because of the Gulf War, he was a really plausible presidential candidate.
JONATHAN MANN: But Cheney wasn't striking a chord. MANN: Dick Cheney is as low key as they get. He has a kind of a pudgy look about him. He speaks in monotone. He doesn't generate a lot of excitement.
JONATHAN MANN: After two years, he abandoned his pursuit of the presidency. Dick Cheney decided it was time for a break and while napping during a fly fishing trip, his next opportunity materialized as if in a dream.
LEMANN: The subject came up of who should be the new CEO of Halliburton. The job had come open. And while he was asleep, all these CEOs with whom he was fishing decided he would be perfect for the job so when he woke up they told him guess what, you're the new CEO of Halliburton.
JONATHAN MANN: Cheney used his extensive government contacts to help the oil and energy company grow. But after five years on the job, old allegiances pulled him away. Presidential candidate George W. Bush, the son of his former boss, was launching his campaign and Cheney was enlisted to help him find a running mate.
SIMPSON: He'd feed a name into George Bush and George would say well, now, what about this person? Well, here's what we found or here's the negatives and the positives. Well, that's great, you know, that's great, Dick, but, you know, I'd like to think about you. And Dick just said forget it.
JONATHAN MANN: But Bush's persistence paid off. In August of 2000, Cheney formally resigned from Halliburton, with a $36 million golden handshake and the Bush-Cheney team was formed.
THOMAS MANN: Bush very wisely saw in Cheney someone who agreed with him on policy, who embraced his conception of leadership and decision-making and thirdly, someone who wouldn't outshine him.
JONATHAN MANN: As Cheney campaigned with his wife and two daughters, his conservative core constituency became concerned about younger daughter Mary's sexual orientation. Meanwhile, the gay community was appalled that the father of a lesbian could have supported a ban on gays in the military and voted against funding for HIV/AIDS testing and counseling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney.
JONATHAN MANN: Cheney continued campaigning in what turned into one of the most hotly contested elections in U.S. history. After 35 days and an unprecedented intervention from the United States Supreme Court, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were declared the victors in the 2000 election. They got down to business right away.
Cheney's wide-ranging responsibilities left some wondering if he was really running the show.
ADELMAN: They'd never seen a vice president who had so large a portfolio in terms of domestic, congressional and international issues.
JONATHAN MANN: But just a few short months into their term, another health scare. Cheney was rushed to the hospital for an emergency angioplasty.
NANCY GIBBS, SENIOR EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: There was quiet betting on Capitol Hill about whether he would be able to serve out his term, much less be available to run for a second one.
JONATHAN MANN: It was a tense moment, but Cheney was back at work just days later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See you later.
JONATHAN MANN: Adding to his stress, accounting irregularities at Halliburton surfaced. Investigators said they occurred during the time Cheney was CEO. CARNEY: Cheney became something of a liability in that he couldn't be used when the White House needed an effective economic spokesman to go out and talk about or take questions on the economy because those questions would inevitably focus on his years at Halliburton.
BUSH: Enough refined product.
JONATHAN MANN: There was speculation that Bush might replace Cheney on the 2004 ticket. But September 11 changed all that. Cheney was whisked off to an undisclosed location to begin planning the U.S. response.
THOMAS MANN: I think it was particularly important to Bush and his political advisers that the president be front and center and not the vice president in dealing with the threats and challenges.
JONATHAN MANN: But Cheney began exerting a quiet but strong influence on U.S. foreign policy.
CARNEY: What is being called the Bush doctrine is actually something that Dick Cheney has been working on for more than 10 years. When he was secretary of defense in the first Bush administration, he and some key aides, who are now working in this Bush administration, developed a defense strategy that back then was considered like right- wing lunacy because it was so aggressive. It contained this idea of preemption. It contained the idea of, that the U.S. is the sole global superpower, should actively prevent the rise of other competitive, hostile powers.
JONATHAN MANN: This new preemptive approach put forth by the man who had troops stop short of Baghdad in 1991 put America at war with Iraq and set off alarm bells internationally. Cheney pushed for ousting Saddam Hussein with or without international support. But once the war in Iraq was under way, the architect of the plan was conspicuously absent.
JOSHUA MARSHALL, "THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY": When it seemed uncertain how the military campaign was going, his earlier hawkishness and optimism about how quickly the war would go seemed a little iffy. And that may be one of the reasons he kept out of sight.
JONATHAN MANN: Then, another setback. Word leaked out that the administration secretly awarded Halliburton, Cheney's former company, a contract in post-war Iraq worth hundreds of millions of dollars. From the outside, the deal looked suspect.
MARSHALL: When you have a vice president who is a former executive for a company that is now being given big contracts for a war that, you know, that the vice president was a big supporter of, the appearance of impropriety is sort of impossible to miss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good-bye, Saddam.
JONATHAN MANN: The fall of Baghdad could not have come soon enough for the vice president. Mere hours after the statue of Saddam came down, Cheney came out in public and effectively declared victory.
CHENEY: The conclusion of the war will mark one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted.
JONATHAN MANN: A moment of vindication for Cheney. Whether Cheney's doctrine will be vindicated is still being played out in post-war Iraq. Regardless of the outcome, Cheney has proved throughout his 40 years in politics he will survive.
SIMPSON: He is an ambulatory heat shield. He can come through the atmosphere with sparks flying out all sides and over the top and he lands with a smile unscathed, dapper, smiling that wry smile like I've just been through that and it wasn't too bad. He'll take all heat. He'll take it all.
ZAHN: Vice president Cheney recently stepped out from the shadows of White House to join President Bush on a fund-raising blitz. In one day, the vice president collected nearly $2 million for the president's 2004 re-election bid.
That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.
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