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Cheney extends olive branch, or twig, to Palin

Michael Finnegan

LOS ANGELES -- Sarah Palin was miffed to hear Dick Cheney say that when John McCain picked her as his running mate, she did not meet the test of being ready to assume the presidency.

So the former vice president tried to tone down his remarks Monday.

Sort of.

"It wasn't aimed so much at Gov. Palin as it was against the basic process that McCain used," Cheney said on Fox News Channel's "Hannity" show.

What he was trying to say when he told ABC News recently that it was a mistake to put Palin on the 2008 Republican ticket, Cheney explained, was that "the process didn't meet the standards I would like to see our candidate pursue when they pick a running mate."

"I like Gov. Palin," Cheney said. "I think she's a very able and effective spokesman for the party, for conservative causes. She believes in a lot of the same things I believe in."

Since his recovery from a heart transplant in March, Cheney has been keeping a high public profile. He hosted a fundraising dinner for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last month at his home near Jackson Hole, Wyo.

With Romney on the verge of choosing his running mate, Cheney also sparked headlines when he bluntly told ABC that he saw Palin as unfit for the vice presidency when McCain picked her four years ago.

The first test for choosing any running mate, he said, is whether the person is ready to step in to replace the president. Only then should standard political factors, such as the potential to draw more votes, be considered, said Cheney, who led George W. Bush's search for a running mate in 2000 and wound up getting picked himself.

"She's an attractive candidate," he said of Palin on ABC. "But based on her background -- she'd only been governor for what, two years -- I don't think she passed that test of being ready to take over, and I think that was a mistake."

The former Alaska governor responded tartly by alluding to Cheney's accidental shooting of a 76-year-old friend on a quail hunt in 2006.

"Well seeing as how Dick -- excuse me, Vice President Cheney, never misfires," she told Fox News, "then evidently he's quite convinced that what he had evidently read about me by the lame-stream media, having been written, what I believe is a false narrative over the last four years, evidently Dick Cheney believed that stuff. And that's a shame, so he characterized me as being a mistake."

Palin could not be reached for comment on Cheney's latest remarks.


By Michael Finnegan
Los Angeles Times