Representative from Wyoming 1979-1989, U.S. Secretary of Defense 1989-1993, Served as the 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 in the administration of George W. Bush.
Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska to Richard Herbert Cheney and Marjorie Dickey. His father worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a soil conservation agent and was a registered Democrat. He has a brother, Bob, and a sister, Susan. Cheney grew up in Casper, Wyoming, and met his high-school sweetheart and future wife, Lynne Vincent, at age fourteen. One of his first known ancestors was Ralph de Chesney, Sire of Quesnay who fought on the side of William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Cheney excelled athletically in high school. He was elected the Natrona County High School senior class president, represented the school at Boys State, and played halfback on the football team. After high school graduation in 1959 and during the next six summers, Cheney worked on power lines and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.
In 1964, he married Lynne Vincent. Mrs. Cheney has a BA with highest honors from Colorado College, an MA from The University of Colorado, and a Ph.D from The University of Wisconsin specializing in British literature. She has authored or co-authored eight books and numerous articles. She served from 1986 to 1996 as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, appointed by Ronald Reagan. She was at one time a co-host on CNN’s Crossfire. She is now a public speaker and author, and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Cheney was of military age during the Vietnam War but he did not serve in the war. On May 19, 1965, Cheney was classified as 1-A “available for service” by the Selective Service. On October 26, 1965 the Selective Service lifted the constraints on drafting childless married men. However, after his daughter was born, Cheney applied for and received a reclassification of 3-A, making him unlikely to be drafted.
While working on his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1960s, Cheney was selected for a one-year fellowship in the office of Representative William Steiger, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin. In 1969, the ambitious young Cheney caught the attention of Representative Donald Rumsfeld, who had just been selected by President Richard M. Nixon to head the Office of Economic Opportunity and who hired Cheney as his special assistant.
In the early 1970s, when Rumsfeld became White House counsel, Cheney accompanied his mentor to the White House, where he served as a deputy counsel. He later became assistant director of the Cost of Living Council, with Rumsfeld as director. These jobs earned Cheney an enviable reputation as a Washington insider at a relatively young age. To provide himself with financial and professional security, Cheney also took a position as vice president of Bradley, Woods, & Company, an investment advisory group in Washington. US Secretaries of Defense
In late April of 2000, Texas Governor George W. Bush, the likely Republican nominee for president, tapped Cheney to supervise his search for a running mate. In July, speculation began that Bush would decide on Cheney himself. On July 25, Bush announced his choice of Cheney, citing the latter’s “great integrity, sound judgment, and experience.” Cheney and Bush formally accepted their party’s nominations at the Republican National Convention in early August.
Though Cheney is expected to help balance out the Republican ticket against the relative inexperience of the Texas governor, many believe his conservative views will make it harder for Bush to present himself as a mainstream candidate. Almost immediately, liberals began raising questions about Cheney’s congressional voting record, including his anti-abortion stance and his strong opposition to gays and lesbians openly serving in the military. Questions have also been raised about Cheney’s health and fitness, as he suffered three mild heart attacks before the age of 50 and underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery in 1988.
Cheney and Bush faced off against the Democratic ticket of Vice President Al Gore and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman in one of the closest and most disputed presidential elections in U.S. history. On election night, November 7, it all came down to the state of Florida and its 25 electoral votes. With a razor-thin lead in the state (though he trailed Gore in the popular vote), Bush was first declared the winner by the news networks, and Gore called to concede the election. Hours later, the final count in Florida looked too close to call, and Gore rescinded his concession as the recounts began. In the midst of the post-election hubbub, Cheney suffered another mild heart attack and underwent an angioplasty procedure. He was given a clean bill of health in late November.
After five weeks of complicated legal battles that stretched all the way to the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to stop the recounts in Florida, effectively declaring Bush the winner of the state by a margin of 537 votes. On December 13, one day after this decision, Gore ended his campaign and congratulated Bush on his victory, as both men urged the nation to try to put partisan differences aside in the wake of the extraordinary election.
Cheney has two adult daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, and four grandchildren. Elizabeth was born in 1966 and is married to Philip J. Perry, a Lockheed Martin Corp. lobbyist who was nominated by Pres. George W. Bush in March or April, 2005, to be General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security. The Perrys have four children. Elizabeth graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1996 and has worked as an international law attorney, consultant. She currently works for the State Department’s Near East Affairs Bureau. Mary is one of her father’s top campaign aides and closest confidantes and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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