TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

SEAN KENNEDY (ph): During the Bush administration, there's been a growing controversy over the role of the office of the vice president.

As a candidate for president, what authority would you delegate to the office of vice president? And should those authorities be more clearly defined through a constitutional amendment?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: Having been considered for that post several times, I've thought a lot about that.

(LAUGHTER)

The vice president really only has two duties. One is to cast a tie-breaking vote in the case of a tied vote in the Senate. And the other is to inquire daily as to the health of the president.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I really would do what some presidents have done in the past. A vice president brings a certain area of expertise and talent. I would probably assign some of those areas, like telecommunications or some other important issues.

But...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So not as wide-ranging as Vice President Cheney had?

MCCAIN: Look, I would be very careful that everybody understood that there's only one president.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Thompson, you served in the Cabinet with Vice President Cheney. Do you -- and I heard in the implication in Senator McCain's answer there -- do you think that Vice President Cheney has too much power?

THOMPSON: I believe that Vice President Cheney is criticized for a lot of things that he doesn't do.

(APPLAUSE)

And I believe that Dick Cheney is an honorable individual. And I think the president of the United States depends a great deal upon him.

But I would like to also quickly point out, since I'm not going to get a chance, is that I don't want to leave this audience -- you know, when you said that nobody supports Senator Grassley's SCHIP program, to have the press -- because I know how the press acts -- that the press will come back, "All Republicans are against poor children and health care for them."

That is not what we said.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not what I said either, but go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMPSON: We said that what we want to do is we want to change SCHIP on a competitive model, against the Democrats...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not with Senator Grassley. And I want to move on and stay on this subject.

THOMPSON: No, but I really want to make that...

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. I just want to stay on this subject.

Mayor Giuliani?

GIULIANI: I think the vice president of the United States -- that office has to be worked out with the president. And the thing that's clearest about it, now that we're at war and we have this Islamic terrorist war against us and we have this aggressive enemy that's already attacked us here in the United States twice, is that a vice president has to be just as capable, just as ready to take over that office, literally on a moment's notice.

And that should be the major qualification. And then it should be in the discretion of the president and the vice president to decide on what kind of responsibilities they should have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But would you like to have...

GIULIANI: I worked in the Reagan administration...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... a vice president like Vice President Cheney, with that wide range of responsibility (ph)?

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