— -- George W. Bush has announced that his father’s formerDefense Secretary, Richard Cheney, will be his runningmate on the GOP ticket.
By Carter M. Yang
Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney has joined presidential candidate George W. Bush on the Republican ticket.
The Texas governor formally named Cheney as his vice presidential running mate at a campaign rally at the University of Texas in Austin this afternoon.
“I believe you’re looking at the next vice president of the United States,” Bush told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, as he stood side-by-side with the former Cabinet secretary. “I’m proud to announce that Dick Cheney, a man of great integrity, sound judgment and experience is my choice to be the next vice president of the United States.”
Cheney, a former congressman, White House chief of staff and secretary of defense, had been heading-up Bush’s search for running mate.
“Gradually, I realized the person that was best qualified to be the vice presidential nominee was working by my side,” Bush explained.
“I’m honored and proud to join your team,” Cheney told the governor, “and I enthusiastically accept the challenge.”
“Big changes are coming to Washington,” he added, “and I want to be a part of them.”
Steps to the Ticket
When Cheney was tapped in April to lead Bush’s vice-presidential search team, the move was thought to lessen the likelihood that he would be chosen to fill the slot.
“When Governor Bush asked me to head-up the search team,” Cheney said this afternoon, “I honestly did not expect that I would be standing here today.”
Bush revealed today that Cheney initially refused to be considered as a prospective vice presidential candidate. In the days leading up to today’s announcement, however, the Bush camp took several notable steps to clear the way for Cheney to join the governor on the ticket.
Last Thursday, Cheney warned the board of Halliburton Co., a Texas-based engineering and construction firm, that he would need to step down as chief executive officer if tapped to run for vice president. Last month, Cheney sold half of his interest in the company’s stock.
On Friday, Cheney traveled from Texas to Wyoming, where he served as a congressman for 10 years, to personally change his voter registration in order to remove a possible constitutional barrier to a Bush-Cheney ticket.
The Bush camp also took steps to evaluate Cheney’s health, a potential area of concern given that he has suffered three heart attacks and, in 1988, underwent quadruple bypass surgery.
Cheney was given a medical exam last week and Dr. Denton A. Cooley, a prominent Houston cardiologist and a Bush family friend, spoke to Cheney’s physician in Washington, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, and subsequently concluded that Cheney was fit to run and serve.
How it Happened
It was revealed Monday that Bush had indeed selected Cheney to be his running mate. Today at 7:22 a.m. ET, the governor called Cheney at his home in Dallas to formally ask him to join him on the ticket, and he accepted.
Shortly thereafter, Bush began phoning the other candidates who had been under consideration to notify them of his decision. That list, ABCNEWS has learned, included Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who received a call from the governor an hour later, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, Tennessee Sens. Fred Thompson and Bill Frist and Ohio Rep. John Kasich.
Cheney and his wife Lynne flew to Austin this morning to join Bush and his wife Laura at the governor’s mansion. Hours later, the choice became official as Cheney made his first campaign appearance as a vice presidential candidate.
With Cheney’s candidacy now official, he and Bush will begin campaigning together in effort to build enthusiasm for the full ticket in advance of the Republican National Convention, which is set to begin in Philadelphia next Monday. Their next stop on the campaign trail will be a rally Wednesday in Wyoming, Cheney’s home state.
ABCNEWS’ Mark Halperin and John Berman contributed to this report.