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Cheney says Clinton could win presidency

October 25, 2006|James Gerstenzang | Times Staff Writer

Vice President Dick Cheney took a look Tuesday at the field of potential Democratic presidential candidates and said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton could be the next president. He also suggested a preference for Sen. Joe Lieberman in the race for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut.

And the vice president, famous for having declared in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes," acknowledged that the violence had not ended. Speaking with Juan Williams in a National Public Radio interview, Cheney said that with the political process in motion in Iraq, he would have expected "a lower level of violence than we're seeing today."

Cheney made the comments on the Democratic political scene in an interview with Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity. Cheney said that the former first lady "is a formidable candidate."

"I think she could win," the vice president said, adding: "I hope she doesn't. I disagree with her on nearly all the issues, but nobody should underestimate her. She's a very serious candidate for president."

He said that Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who on Sunday opened the door to running for the Democratic nomination, is an "attractive guy."

"Don't know him well, met him a few times," Cheney said, in his characteristic staccato speech. Obama was elected in 2004, and the vice president said "people might want a little more experience than that," but if he runs, "he'll be a player on the Democratic side."

Lieberman, who ran for the vice presidency in 2000, has built up a lead as an independent candidate after losing the Democratic primary election in August to Ned Lamont, who made the senator's support for the Iraq war the central issue in the campaign.

Asked whether he was backing Lieberman, whom Cheney presented as "a big supporter of the global war on terror," the vice president said he was reluctant to answer, but tipped his hand nonetheless.

"I don't want to harm Joe's chances or prospects," he said, "so I haven't said anything about his election."

As for his own position, he acknowledged the dark view critics take of him as, in his words, "the Darth Vader of the administration," and he also said, for the hundredth -- or was it the thousandth? -- time that he would not run for president.

"It's firm, final, fixed, irrevocable," he said.


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