It turns out that Dick Cheney wasn't Dick Cheney's first choice to be George W. Bush's vice president. The former veep reveals in his new book that he favored Donald Rumsfeld for the job and even considered Colin Powell and John McCain, Bush's 2000 GOP primary foe.
After winning the nomination, Cheney says in his book In My Time, Bush tapped the long-time Republican official and defense secretary under former President George H.W. Bush to draw up a list of vice presidential candidates.
Cheney, who also says that he refused Bush's earlier request to run his campaign for the presidency, pulled together some family and friends to set up a search committee. "When I thought about it, I'd realized I'd been observing or participating in the vice presidential selection process for nearly a quarter century, so I felt that I had a good sense of how an effective search should work," Cheney writes on page 255.
"It's harder to find a good vice presidential candidate than you might think," says Cheney. "Everyone has some kind of baggage—whether it's a voting record, a financial problem, or something in his or her personal life."
Cheney says that he focused on drawing up a "real list," not a longer list to throw off the press. One call went to former Florida Sen. Connie Mack, who turned it down. "Connie actually said he'd never speak to me again if I put him on the list." [Check out political cartoons about the GOP.]
He apparently also liked Powell and McCain, who both "made it clear that they weren't interested."
But Rumsfeld was. "One candidate who spent a short time on the real list was Don Rumsfeld. Not long after I took on the assignment of managing the selection process, I placed a call to Don and said, 'I'm pulling together a list of potential VP candidates, and I'd like to put your name on it. You don't have to say yes, but if you don't say anything, I'm going to put your name on the list,'" Cheney writes of his long-time associate. [Read: Hug Between Obama and Bush Humanized Presidency.]
"There was a silence on the other end of the phone, so I added Don's name and left him in a position where he could truthfully say he had not asked to be on the list," pens Cheney on page 257.
But it didn't last long because for Bush "a Rumsfeld vice presidency just wasn't in the cards." One reason: Some in the Bush camp believed that Rumsfeld in 1975 maneuvered Bush's father into a job running the CIA, thereby taking him out of contention to become former President Ford's vice president.
Of course, in the end, Cheney got the job, one he had rejected in the spring of 2000 when Bush's campaign manager first asked. He writes that as the search went on, Bush said to him more than once, "Dick, you're the solution to my problem."