Richard Cheney Biography

Richard Cheney

vice president of the United States
Born: Jan. 30, 1941
Birthplace: Lincoln, Neb.

President George W. Bush turned to a seasoned Washington insider to be his second in command. The vice president has served under presidents Nixon, Ford, George H.W. Bush, and now George W. Bush.

After earning a BA and MA from the University of Wyoming, Cheney worked in the office of Wisconsin Governor Warren Knowles. Two years later, he won an American Political Science Association congressional fellowship.

Cheney went to Washington in 1969 to serve as special assistant to Donald Rumsfeld (President George W. Bush's secretary of defense) in the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Nixon administration. In 1974, Rumsfeld led President Ford's transition team, and he brought his protégé to the executive office. When Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense in 1975, Cheney was appointed Ford's chief of staff. He returned to Wyoming after Ford lost the presidential election to Jimmy Carter in 1976 and worked briefly in the private sector before running for the state's sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He soundly defeated his Democratic rival, Bill Bagley, in the 1978 election, and was reelected five times. He rose through the ranks to become minority whip. Cheney served as President George H.W. Bush's defense secretary and commanded the Pentagon during the Persian Gulf War.

From 1995 until 2000, Cheney served as CEO of Halliburton Co., a Texas construction and engineering outfit that services oil companies. He left the company to head the vice presidential selection committee. The group vetted several possibilities, but he himself emerged as Bush's top choice.

Cheney has become as one of the most hands-on vice presidents in history. He has weekly one-to-one lunches with the president, is a key foreign-policy advisor, and has taken charge of the president's energy policy, which calls for exploring wider use of nuclear power and fossil fuels, as well as increasing oil drilling. The vice president has been dogged by heart problems. He had three minor heart attacks before age 50 and had quadruple-bypass surgery in 1988. In his first months in office, he had a minor procedure to repair a stent in one of his arteries.

See also Encyclopedia: Richard Cheney.

See also Vice Presidents.