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Cheney, Clinton Have a Heart-to-Heart

The vice-president calls to wish the former president well and share his experiences with coronary disease and bypass surgery.

September 05, 2004|From staff and wire reports

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Some things are just bigger than politics. As Bill Clinton awaited open-heart surgery Saturday in a New York hospital, Vice President Dick Cheney -- who once considered running against Clinton for the presidency -- called the former president Saturday to wish him well and share his own experience with heart disease.

Cheney told reporters traveling aboard Air Force Two that he had a brief conversation with the ailing Clinton.

"I just called to let him know we're thinking about him," Cheney said. "I've been through a similar experience before. The key was to have the good sense to go get it checked if you thought you had a problem, which he obviously did."

Cheney said he told Clinton about his own quadruple bypass 16 years ago. "I was living proof of the wonders of modern medicine," Cheney said, recounting the conversation, "and I'm sure [it will] go fine for him too."

The vice president has had multiple heart attacks, his first when he was 38. Before he was 50, Cheney had survived three heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery. His most recent heart attack came in November 2000, after the presidential election.

In New York, Clinton was reportedly in good spirits Saturday, walking around his hospital room in street clothes and buoyed by thousands of get-well messages as he awaited surgery early this week, people close to the family said.

Clinton, 58, was expected to be operated on as early as Monday but probably Tuesday, said Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who said the former president was upbeat when he spoke to him by phone.

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