TODAY   |  October 21, 2013

Cheney: Tea Party a ‘normal, healthy reaction’

Former Vice President Dick Cheney tells TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie that the Tea party is still a good influence on politics when it comes to fiscal spending and debt problems and that talks about his disagreements with President George W. Bush by the end of their presidency.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> president dick chaney is with us right now. he is out with a new book called "heart." we'll talk about that later. but in the meantime, lots to talk about in this book but a lot in politics too. a lot of people see the current time as a moment when the republican party is almost in a civil war with itself. do you think the shutdown strategy was a smart strategy?

>> well i look at it with a different perspective, savannah. i think, we had a lot of talk about convict inside the party, what intrigues me is i think the most radical operator is the president and i think he is trying to take the country in a direction that's fundamentally different than anything we have seen before.

>> you would think that might be a unifying moment for the party, instead you have senator graham calling it a political gift to democrats and jeb bush said you should have let the plan play out and find out it was flawed and mitch mcconnell says we have acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy is. that suggest there is is a real rift.

>> i don't see it as a real rift. i look back over my own experience and there are times when there's a new wave, if you will, a new generation of political leaders coming in. like in 1978 we had a guy named newt gingrich that kept telling everybody we could become the majority and he was right.

>> you said you thought the tea party was a positive influence. do you feel that way?

>> yes. they raised issues americans care about. we have terrible track records with respect to federal spending. nobody seems to be able to solve the problem. it's an uprising, in part, and it's taken place within the republican party . i don't see it as a negative. it's better to have that turmoil and change in the republican party than it would be to have it outside.

>> would you call yourself a tea partier? are you a member of that party?

>> i'm not a card carrying member. i don't think there is a card but i have respect for what the people are doing. these are americans. they're loyal, they're patriotic and taxpayers and fed up with what is happening in washington. it's a normal healthy reaction and the fact that the party is having to adjust to it is positive.

>> do you think ted cruz is a positive influence.

>> he represents the thinking of a lot of people in texas. my own daughter is running in wyoming partly under the concern that washington isn't running.

>> he is challenging a long time incumbent and that has made angry many old friends of yours frankly in wyoming. will you get out there and campaign for her?

>> well, i'll do all i can. the best thing i can do is stay out of the way. i'm part of that generation. my time is up. i had a great time but we need new talent. here we have a woman with five children. has got the drive and the energy to represent that next generation and we need to be passing on leadership in the party to that next generation. so i think it's a very healthy development.

>> as part of that campaign your daughter said she is not pro- gay marriage . your other daughter is pro- gay marriage . is this causing tension in the family?

>> well if it did i wouldn't talk about it. that's a family matter. my views on the subject are well-known. i laid them out in a debate in 2000 .

>> going back to the shutdown for a moment, you said the tea party is actually a positive influence in terms of its focus on federal spending, that kind of thing, this shutdown cost $24 billion in terms of growth. isn't that totally antitheical to what the goal is?

>> what's the cost of not dealing with the debt? it's more than that. we're passing on to my 3-year-old granddaughter. and we're sending that bill to the future. it's outrageous that we're not dealing with the debt problem and i think that's what we need to be doing and the problem isn't the short-term moment, the debate over the shutdown or not the shutdown, the real thing is what are we going to do long-term to solve our debt.

>> peter baker has a new book called "days of fire." he wrote by the end of the second term you and president bush disagreed on north korea , gun rights , same sex marriage, guantanamo bay , donald rumsfeld , syria, russia, and federal spending. that suggests that president bush almost totally objected your view of the world by the end.

>> i was an independent thinker. we had differences. he promised when he made me part of his administration i'd have the opportunity to present my views and i did. i was more influential in the first term. he needed my advice more than in the second term. i'm not surprised he had differences. i was the vice president. i got to offer my advice. sometimes he took it. sometimes he didn't.

>> we get to talk more to you about your own personal battle. including your heart transplant . we look forward to