SAN FRANCISCO – Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday he’d like to serve a second term “if the president’s willing and if my wife approves.”
Cheney, who has a history of heart trouble, said doctors also would need to give him the go-ahead.
He expressed the same sentiments more than a year ago while announcing that he needed a heart pacemaker. Despite a year of good health reports, Cheney’s status for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign continues to be a source of speculation.
“I suppose two people are going to figure very prominently in that decision,” Cheney said when asked whether he would be on the ticket. “One is obviously the president. The other is my wife.”
Fielding questions after an economic speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Cheney said serving as vice president has been the high point of his professional life, but he noted that with public service “you become a target.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating accounting practices of Halliburton Co. while Cheney led the oil firm. Hecklers interrupted his speech Wednesday, shouting “Cheney is a corporate crook.”
Even with the downsides, Cheney said he was ready to serve again if Bush wants him.
“He’ll have to make a decision by this time about two years from now when the convention rolls around in terms of deciding who he wants to have serve as his vice president in a second term,” Cheney said. “That will be his call and I’ll be happy to support whatever decision he chooses to make.”
Later, he said, “If the president’s willing and if my wife approves and if the doctors say it’s OK, then I’d be happy to serve a second term.”
Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, said he is feeling fine.
“With respect to my health, it’s good. I have been probably better watched now than I have ever been,” he said. “I’ve got the doctor following me around every place I go. Literally when I get on the elevator there’s a guy there with a black bag.”
Asked about Halliburton in San Francisco, Cheney said, “I have great affection and respect for Halliburton. It’s a fine company.” He refused to comment further, saying he did not want to be accused of trying to influence an SEC investigation.
“If you are interested in the facts of the Halliburton Web site,” he said.
But the Halliburton issue arose again during his speech, when several protesters who slipped into the hall disrupted his remarks about the economy and the war on terrorism.
Cheney stopped and stood silently for several seconds as the women chanted. As Secret Service agents led protesters from the room, Cheney said “Thank you,” laughing slightly, and resumed his speech.
The speech was part of a daylong swing through Northern California. Cheney also was to headline a fund-raiser in Fresno for Dick Monteith, a Republican state senator running for outgoing Democratic Rep. Gary Condit’s seat.
Notably absent from Cheney’s visit Wednesday was a public appearance with California’s Republican candidate for governor, Bill Simon. Simon was scheduled to attend a fund-raiser in Burlingame Wednesday night, however the event is closed to the media.
Republicans had hoped the Los Angeles businessman and first-time political candidate could help them unseat Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and help wrest California from Democrat’s grip.
But Simon has been dogged by a string of scandals relating to his family investment firm, including a $78 million civil fraud verdict last week, and national Republicans have debated whether to back off.