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Video: Cheney: Obama’s still a one-term president

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    >> our exclusive interview with former vice president dick cheney . the man considered by many to be the most controversial and powerful vice president ever sat down with jamie gangel . good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning. the former vice president looks different these days. he's lost weight after surgery but has strong opinions, is writing his memories and talked to us about everything from president obama to sarah palin , his relationship with former president bush and what he thinks about those people who call him " darth vader ." but we started by talking about the heart pump that saved his life.

    >> i had reached the point after 30 years and five heart attacks where i really needed to do something. it's a wondrous device. it's really a miracle of modern technology. you know, i'm here today because we have that kind of technology.

    >> reporter: i know you're not going to pick up your shirt and show me, but you have a cord now that comes out.

    >> right.

    >> reporter: and a battery pack .

    >> i wear it on a vest. there is a control element here. and then two batteries, one on each side, good for about 12 hours each. then there is a cord that runs inside my chest to the pump on the inside. that's what powers it, keeps it functioning. initially, obviously, it's awkward to walk around with all this gear on but you get to the point where you have adapted, where it's second nature to you.

    >> reporter: are you thinking about a heart transplant ?

    >> i haven't made a decision yet. the technology is getting better and better. we have more and more experience of people living with this technology. so i'll have to make a decision at some point whether or not i want to go for a transplant, but we haven't addressed it yet.

    >> reporter: in the meantime, cheney is now back in public and speaking out. you said that you thought that president obama was going to be a one-term president.

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> reporter: do you still?

    >> do i.

    >> reporter: because?

    >> i think he embarked upon a course of action when he became president that did not have as much support as he thought it did. that once he got into the business, for example, of health care reform , expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit, those were all weaknesses, as i look at barack obama . i think he'll be a one-term president.

    >> reporter: but cheney softened his past criticism of president obama 's approach to the war on terror . you said you believe president obama has made america less safe, that he's actually raised the risk of attack.

    >> well, when i made that comment, i was concerned that the counter-terrorism policies that we'd put in place after 9/11 that kept the nation safe for over seven years were being rapidly discarded or he was going to attempt to discard them. things like enhanced interrogation techniques or the terror surveillance program. i think he also -- he obviously has been through the fires of becoming president and having to make decisions and live with the consequences. i think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. so i think he's learned from experience.

    >> reporter: let's talk about the tragic shooting in tucson.

    >> well, i first heard the news and i was shocked, i think like everybody else . i thought the president handled it well. i'm not an obama supporter by nature, but i thought this was one of his better efforts.

    >> reporter: we don't know what motivated this young man, but immediately there was an uproar about contentious political rhetoric being responsible.

    >> i think we have to be a little bit careful here about a rush to judgment about assuming that somehow the rest of society or the political class bears the responsibility for what happened here when it was the act of a deranged, crazed individual that committed the crime. i think, you know, our politics can get pretty rough at times. having been vice president for eight years, maybe i'm more sensitive to it than others. but the fact of the matter is, you know, good political fights is one of the great strengths of our democracy.

    >> reporter: however, cheney side-stepped getting into the political fray over the best gop candidate in 2012 , especially when it came to his opinion of sarah palin .

    >> i'm interested in governor palin, like a lot of people are. i have met her. i thought she's got an interesting political career established. she's clearly a factor, but in the republican party has a strong following and also a lot of critics.

    >> reporter: do you think she's qualified to be president?

    >> i'm not going to get into the whiz business of saying this one is, this one isn't. i will participate in the process when the time is right.

    >> reporter: i understand you liked her reality show .

    >> i do. i think it's very good. i love alaska.

    >> reporter: these days the former vice president is spending most of his time writing his memoirs with daughter liz. word is it will be candid, blunt and some scores will be settled.

    >> well, i have a bit of the sense that i'm going to get the last word.

    >> reporter: will you write about differences you had with the president?

    >> i will, sure. we had some policy differences. i will be forthright with my comments on those.

    >> reporter: in his memoir he said about you, "ten years later i have never regretted my decision to run with dick cheney ." but he also writes that you offered and he considered dropping you from the ticket. and he says, "he had become a lightning rod for criticism, he was seen as dark and heartless, the darth vader of the administration." first of all, why did you offer to step aside ?

    >> reporter: i actually went in about three different times because i didn't think he took me seriously the first time. the reason i did it was i thought he needed to have the ability to do whatever was necessary to make sure he won. so i went to him and i said, look, mr. president, i have taken a lot of incoming fire. it goes with the turf, but if you have any desire to make a change here, i will be perfectly happy to step aside so you can put somebody else in this job. after i went in about the third time and reiterated that, he went away, thought about it for a couple of weeks, came back and said, "no, dick, you're my guy."

    >> reporter: still cheney admits there were tense moments, especially when bush refused to pardon the vice president's chief of staff, scooter libbey.

    >> i pushed hard for him to do that and he disagreed.

    >> reporter: did it strain your relationship?

    >> a bit. yeah.

    >> reporter: what's your relationship like now?

    >> i think it's pretty good.

    >> reporter: cheney admits he misses being in the thick of things but says he's enjoying life after the white house and getting used to civilian technology. you use a blackberry now?

    >> i do.

    >> reporter: a kindle?

    >> yes.

    >> reporter: you drive yourself around?

    >> yes.

    >> reporter: does life feel pretty normal?

    >> it does. i didn't even have a cell phone when i was in the white house . so now i'm not totally modern. i still write in longhand and don't use a computer for that kind of thing. my grandchildren still laugh at me. my 3-year-old grandson was showing me the other day how to use the ipad to play games. angry birds or something like that. but i'm gradually adjusting.

    >> reporter: adjusting but still not backing down from controversy. he says those who think he became darth vader simply do not understand the responsibility he felt after 9/11.

    >> when you lose 3,000 people, when the pentagon is struck, the world trade center is destroyed, you're facing the prospect at any moment of another major attack, when people are talking about biological agents or even nuclear weapons in the hands of a group of 9/11 terrorists, you're at war, but the notion that i somehow changed, became tough, mean and nasty, no, i don't think so. but i also recognized at the time that my public image would suffer in terms of the degree to which a lot of people out there who'd found me a warm, fuzzy, lovable sort before 9/11 all of the sudden say, my gosh, this guy is darth vader . it went with the turf and i didn't worry about it. i wasn't out there to sugarcoat my image. i wasn't running for anything. i was there to do a job. if it meant i had to break some china to get the job done, i did it. but it was with a strong feeling which was supported by president bush that this isn't going to happen again on my watch.

    >> reporter: any regrets?

    >> no. my regrets are that there will be some that i reference in my book, but i will get you a copy when it comes off the presses.

    >> reporter: much more to come, as they say. his book will be coming out later this year, meredith. expect much more about his relationship with president bush , policy differences he had with people like condy rice and colin powell . critics won't find apologies for tactics like enhanced interrogation . his friend, former wyoming senator alan simpson says the book will be, quote, a hell of a book, dick cheney in full.

    >> he knows how to tease a book, too, jamie. thank you very much.

    >> thank you.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 1/18/2011 9:13:25 AM ET 2011-01-18T14:13:25

In an exclusive interview that aired on TODAY Tuesday, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that although Barack Obama appears to be learning counterterrorism on the job and handled himself “well” in response to the shooting tragedy in Arizona this month, he will still be a one-term president. The former vice president also said he has “no regrets” about the Bush administration’s response to the 2001 terrorist attacks, and believes that Obama is finding out just how difficult such decisions are.

In a wide-ranging interview with TODAY national correspondent Jamie Gangel at his home in Maryland, Cheney also disclosed that he offered to step aside as vice president three times at the end of George W. Bush’s first term in office but was told “No, Dick. You’re my guy.”

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‘No regrets’
Appearing to have lost much weight since doctors installed a heart pump after his fifth heart attack last February, Cheney, who turns 70 on Jan. 30, said he has not decided yet whether to undergo a heart transplant.

Video: Cheney: Obama’s still a one-term president (on this page)

Cheney hasn’t had a change of heart about counterterrorism, either, and said that Obama is coming closer to his point of view.

“I think he’s been through the fires of becoming president and having to make decisions and live with the consequences,” Cheney said. “I think he’s learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate ... I think he’s learned from experience.”

Asked specifically about former President George W. Bush’s remark in his memoir that Cheney hardened his views on national security after the 9/11 attacks to the extent that he was viewed as a “Darth Vader,” Cheney said he wasn’t worried about labels then, and isn’t now.

“I’ve met a lot of friends who publicly have made the claim or the charge, ‘That’s not the Dick Cheney I knew.’ I was tough, aggressive. But the notion that somehow I changed — that I became tough, mean and nasty — no, I don’t think so,” Cheney said.

“But I also recognized it at the time, that my public image would suffer,” he continued. “It went with the turf. And I didn’t worry about it. I wasn’t out there to sugarcoat my image. I wasn’t running for anything; I was there to do a job. And if it meant I had to break some china to get the job done, I did it.”

Cheney is writing a memoir, and promised it will contain some “regrets.” He declined to divulge many details, but did disclose that he offered on multiple occasions to step aside as vice president if Bush thought that would help him win a second term. “I actually went in about three different times, because I didn’t think he took me serious the first time,” Cheney said.

“The reason I did it was I thought he needed to have the ability to do whatever was necessary to make sure he won,” Cheney added. “I said, ‘Look, Mr. President, you know, I’ve taken a lot of incoming fire. It goes with the turf. But if you have any desire to make a change here, I’ll be perfectly happy to step aside so you can put somebody else in this job.”

Cheney said Bush thought about his offer for several weeks and finally decided against it. Bush was re-elected with Cheney as his running mate in 2004.

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One and done?
Cheney reiterated his belief that a growing deficit and dissatisfaction among voters with Obama’s health care legislation will be the Democratic president’s undoing.

“I think he embarked upon a course of action when he became president that did not have as much support as he thought it did once he got into the business, for example, of health care reform,” Cheney said. “I think his overall approach to expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit — those are all weaknesses, as I look at Barack Obama. And I think he’ll be a one-term president.”

Slideshow: The private and public lives of Dick Cheney (on this page)

But Cheney did praise Obama for his public comments calling for calm and civility in the wake of the Jan. 8 shooting tragedy at a Tucson political gathering that left six dead, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life, and 12 others injured.

“When I first heard the news, I was shocked, I think like everybody else,” Cheney said. “I thought the president handled it well. And I’m not an Obama supporter by nature, but I thought this was one of his better efforts.”

Heart transplant?
Cheney appeared gaunt, but when he talked about his health, he spoke in the same frank, matter-of-fact tone that he was known for as vice president. He showed Gangel his new heart pump, which helps his damaged heart circulate his blood.

“I’d reached the point, after 30 years and five heart attacks, where I really needed to do something. And it’s a wondrous device; it’s really a miracle of modern technology,” Cheney said, patting the vest that held the pump. “And now I’m here today because we have that kind of technology.”

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Cheney said that he has not decided whether to seek a heart transplant and gave no timetable for a decision. Meantime, he exercises moderately by taking short walks outside his home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he has been working on his memoir.

Regarding the upcoming book, Gangel asked: “Word is it will be candid, blunt, and some scores will be settled?”

“Well, I have a bit of a sense that I’m gonna get the last word,” Cheney said.

Asked whether the book will address some of his widely publicized disagreements with Bush, Cheney said, “Yeah, we had some policy differences and sometimes personnel differences, and I’ll be forthright with my comments on those.”

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Photos: The private and public lives of Dick Cheney

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  1. Dick Cheney is seen in this 1964 photo, during his junior year photo at the University of Wyoming. He had previously attended Yale University, but returned home due to failing grades. (University of Wyoming via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. This White House file photograph shows President Gerald Ford as he meets with Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, center and Dick Cheney, a staff assistant, in the Oval Office, April 22, 1975. (David Hume Kennerly / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Dick Cheney in the White House on Nov. 4, 1975. When Donald Rumsfeld became secretary of defense, Cheney was named chief of staff. At 34, he was the youngest chief of staff in White House history. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. President Gerald R. Ford and Chief Of Staff Dick Cheney look over documents in the living room of the Aspen Lodge during a weekend trip to Camp David, on August 7, 1976 in Thurmont, Md. (David Hume Kennerly / The White House via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Congressman Dick Cheney and wife Lynne pose for a photo with their two children Liz, left, and Mary, right, at their home in Casper, Wy., in 1978. Also seen is their basset hound "Cyrano." (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. President Ronald Reagan is flanked by House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois, left, and Rep. Dick Cheney of Wyoming during a meeting with House Republicans in the White House Cabinet Room, Monday, March 21, 1983. (Ed Reinke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Rep. Richard Cheney, ranking Republican on the House panel investigating the Iran-Contra affair, and Rep. Lee Hamilton, the panel's chaiman, hold a news conference in Washington on June 19,1987. (Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney stands by as General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefs reporters at the Pentagon on Dec. 20,1989 about the operation to remove Panama's General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power. (Bob Pearson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney shakes hands with a tank crew from the 82nd Airborne Division, during his visit to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday, Aug. 19, 1990. The "SECDEF," as he is known by military acronym, caught the soldiers off-guard with his impromptu visit. (Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell give a press conference in Washington about the military situation in Somalia. (Robert Giroux / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Dick Cheney, CEO of the Halliburton Company, talks former President Gerald Ford during a party for their mutual friend, Richard Growald in San Diego in 1994. Cheney served as Ford's chief of staff and eventually ran his 1976 presidential campaign. (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Governor Geoge W. Bush announces that Dick Cheney will be his running mate in Austin, Texas, on July 25, 2000. Cheney, who was serving as Halliburton CEO, headed Bush's vice presidential search committee. (Paul Buck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, center, leaves George Washington University Hospital in Washington, Friday, Nov. 24, 2000, accompanied by unidentified secret service agents. Cheney, who has a history of coronary artery disease, left the hospital two days after he checked himself in with chest pains. He has had five heart attacks since 1978. (Kamenko Pajic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Dick Cheney, with his daughter Liz holding the Bible, is sworn in as vice president of the United States by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist Jan. 20, 2001 outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vice President Dick Cheney flyfishing on the Snake River in his home state of Wyoming on Sunday, July 8, 2001. (David Bohrer / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. After returning to the White House from Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb., President Bush talks with Vice President Dick Cheney in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center on Sept. 11, 2001 in Washington. (Eric Draper / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. CIA Director George Tenet, Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice meet with President Bush in the White House Oval Office on Oct. 7, 2001, after the president informed the nation that air strikes were made against Afghanistan. (Eric Draper / The White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union speech on Jan. 29, 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Vice President Dick Cheney is seated behind. During this speech, Bush first used the term "axis of evil." (Paul J .Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. President George W. Bush meets with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld outside the Oval Office shortly after authorizing Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 19, 2003 in Washington. (Eric Draper / The White House via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Vice President Dick Cheney listens to Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards during a debate at Case Western Reserve University on Oct. 5, 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Stephen Jaffe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Vice President Dick Cheney listens to his daughter and campaign scheduling director, Mary Cheney, and wife, Lynne Cheney, on a flight the day after the vice presidential debate with Democratic challenger John Edwards on Oct. 6, 2004. As a lesbian, Mary Cheney's sexual orientation has often been in spotlight because of her father's conservative views. (David Hume Kennerly / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr, right, chats with Vice President Dick Cheney as they walk down a street in Gulfport, Miss., touring areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Left: Harry Whittington talks to reporters outside Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial Friday, Feb. 17, 2006, in Corpus Christi, Texas, in his first public statement since being shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident. Whittington told reporters he was sorry for all the trouble Cheney had faced over the incident. Right: A file photo from Nov. 5, 2002 , provided by the White House, shows Vice President Dick Cheney hunting quail in Gettysburg, S.D. The Whittington accident marked the first time a sitting vice president shot someone since Alexander Hamilton's duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, The White House) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, leaves federal court after a hearing in Washington Friday, Feb. 3, 2006. He was later convicted in connection with the leak of a covert CIA agent's identity and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. In 2007, President George W. Bush commuted his prison sentence. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A U.S. soldier shouts as he tries to control the crowd after a suicide attack at the main U.S. air base of Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007. A suicide bomber killed at least 14 people and wounded about a dozen more outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney, who was not injured, was the target. (Musadeq Sadeq / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks to the press as Afghan President Hamid Karzai listens at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on March 20, 2008. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Afghanistan for talks with President Hamid Karzai to assess the fight against extremism ahead of a summit of NATO partners in the battle. (Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Vice President Dick Cheney, suffering from a back injury he sustained while moving into his new home, is wheeled out of the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Jan. 20, 2009 on the way to the inauguration of Barack Obama. Vice President-elect Joe Biden follows at right. (Larry Downing / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Former Vice President Dick Cheney hugs his daughter, Liz Cheney, after she surprised the Conservative Political Action Conference by bringing him as her guest, on Feb. 18, 2010, in Washington. (Cliff Owen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura listen to former Vice President Dick Cheney at the ground breaking for Bush's Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, on Nov.16, 2010. Southern Methodist University is the future site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the George W. Bush Institute that is to be completed in 2013. The appearance was Cheney's first after a summer of recouperating following heart surgery and he looked much thinner than in recent years. (Larry W. Smith / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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