EXCLUSIVE: George Stephanopoulos' Interview with Vice President Dick Cheney

ByABC News
November 4, 2006, 3:15 PM

Nov. 5, 2006 — -- Vice President Dick Cheney sat down for an exclusive interview with ABC'S George Stephanopoulos to discuss the Iraq war, President Bush's economic policies, and the upcoming midterm elections. Following is the text of the interview, below.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said this week that it's your belief that the insurgents are trying to influence the election. Does that mean that a Democratic victory is a victory for the insurgents?

CHENEY: Well, I think what they're trying to do, obviously, is execute on their strategy. And, if you think about their strategy, it isn't to defeat us militarily; they can't do that. But what they're betting on -- Osama bin Laden talks about it -- is that they can, in fact, ultimately break the will of the American people, that they can persuade enough Americans that we'll ultimately leave.

And then they cite Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993 as examples where the U.S. took casualties and then departed.

So that's their basic, fundamental, underlying strategy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What are they trying to get voters to do?

CHENEY: Well, I think when they see something happen, such as happened in Connecticut this year, where the Democratic Party, in effect, purged Joe Lieberman, primarily over his support for the president and the war, um that says to them that their strategy is working.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you've had a lot of Republican defections on Iraq as well. Just today, just a few minutes ago, Vanity Fair magazine reported that Richard Perle and Ken Adelman, two of the strongest early supporters of the war, say that now they would not have supported the invasion if they knew how incompetent the administration would be in handling it.

Listen to Ken Adelman. He called your administration among the most incompetent administrations in the postwar era, individually each team member had serious flaws, together they were deadly dysfunctional.

CHENEY: Well, I haven't seen the piece. I'm not going to comment on it, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Richard Perle and Ken Adelman were two of the strongest supporters of the administration.

CHENEY: Well, I think there's no question but what it's a tough war, but it's also the right thing to do. And it's very important we complete the mission. I just fundamentally disagree.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also have a lot of Republican candidates for Senate out there right now -- six by my count -- who are calling either for a change of course in the war or a change of leadership.

CHENEY: George, the primary opposition to the war is coming from the Democratic Party. They haven't offered up a plan, but they've got several different positions: Withdraw; withdraw at some future date; cut off funding, there's been legislation introduced in the House now by House Democrats to do that.

The fact of the matter is this is the right thing for us to be doing. We need to succeed here. It has a direct bearing on how we do around the world in the global war on terror. If in fact Karzai in Afghanistan and Musharraf in Pakistan, who have been great allies in the war on terror, where we've had major successes, were to see us suddenly decide we're going to depart from Iraq um and decide it had gotten too tough, it would seriously undermine our efforts in all those other places.

So to suggest that somehow there is a solution here, to walk away from Iraq and still aggressively pursue the global war on terror, is just wrong. It's just not valid.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet, you're seeing that come from your own candidates right now

CHENEY: George, it's tough. This is hard to do. No question about it.

But it's the right thing to do, and that's why the president's out there as aggressively as he is and so am I.

We don't make decisions based on the polls. We don't make decisions based on pundits on television or whether or not it's popular. It's the right thing to do, and that's why we're doing it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So will the vote on Tuesday have any effect on the president's Iraq policy?

CHENEY: I think it'll have some effect, perhaps, on the Congress, but the president's made clear what his objective is: It's a victory in Iraq and it's full speed ahead on that basis. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So even those Republican candidates calling for a change of course are not going to get that on Wednesday.

CHENEY: No. You can't make policy, national security policy on the basis of that.

These are people running for Congress. They're entitled to their own views, on both sides of the aisle. But I think there's no question but what when we get into the global war on terror, when we get into the measures that are needed to go on offense and take the fight to the enemy, if you will, that the support that we've had and continue to have is primarily on the Republican side. And I think the Democrats have come up weak on it.