Cheney blasts Reid on Capitol Hill; Senator lashes back at 'president's attack dog'
Fresh from a check up with his doctor in which the vice president learned that the clot in his leg "is gradually resolving," Cheney decided to make some brief remarks aimed at the Senate Majority Leader's "defeatism" during his customary Tuesday visit to the House of Representatives.
"I have waited six years for this occasion, when I've been coming up and usually avoid press comment when I'm up here, but I felt so strongly about what Senator Reid said in the last couple of days that I thought it was appropriate that I come out today and make a statement that I think needs to be made," Cheney said.
The vice president continued, "I think his speech yesterday was unfortunate, that his comments were uninformed and misleading. Senator Reid's taken many positions on Iraq. He has threatened that if the president vetoes the current pending supplemental legislation, that he will send up Senator Russ Feingold's bill to defund Iraq operations altogether. Yet only last November, Senator Reid said there would be no cut-off of funds for the military in Iraq. So in less than six months time, Senator Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, then full funding but with conditions, and then a cut-off of funding. Three positions in five months on the most important foreign policy question facing the nation and our troops."
Cheney said that Reid's claim that "the troop surge was against the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group...is plainly false. The Iraq Study Group report was explicitly favorable toward a troop surge to secure Baghdad."
"Senator Reid said there should be a regional conference on Iraq," Cheney continued. "Apparently he doesn't know that there is going to be one next week. Senator Reid said he doesn't have real, substantive meetings with the president, yet immediately following last week's meeting at the White House, he said, 'It was a good exchange. Everyone voiced their considered opinion about the war in Iraq,' end quote."
Cheney added, "What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat."
"Maybe it's a political calculation," Cheney continued. "Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interest of our country, not on the interest of their political party."
Cheney only answered one question during his appearance, and that was before he unloaded on Reid.
In response to a question on his health, Cheney said, "The leg's doing good."
MSNBC's Nora O'Donnell noted that the vice president was acting as President Bush's "hatchet man" by "lambasting" Reid on Capitol Hill.
Not long after the vice president spoke, Senator Reid responded, calling Cheney an "attack dog" working on behalf of the president.
"As I said yesterday in my remarks at the Wilson Center, the president sends out his attack dogs often, also known as Dick Cheney, and he was here again today attacking not only me, but the Democratic Caucus," Reid said. "The president is in a state of denial."
Reid continued, "We believe the troops should get every penny they need, and we have put our money where our mouth is with the supplemental appropriation bill. We believe there must be a change of direction in the war in Iraq. It's so important that people understand what we did in the supplemental appropriation bill for our troops."
"In this bill, there's $4 billion for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Reid said. "We put that in the bill, the president didn't. In addition to that, there's $4.3 billion for military medicine and our veterans. This is a good piece of legislation. I would hope the president would stop being so brisk and waving it off. This is a bill that is good for the troops; it's good for the country."
Reid added, "We believe that General Petraeus is right. The war cannot be won militarily. That's what he said -- 20 percent military, 80 percent political, economic and diplomatic. Not only is General Petraeus saying this, but the Iraq Study Group said it."
The Senate Majority Leader said that "what this bill does is begins the very important mission of rebuilding our depleted military. We do not have a single Army unit that is not deployed now that is battle-ready."
The following video clips are from MSNBC and CNN.