Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served for eight years under President George W. Bush starting in 2001, was so worried about his history of heart problems when he took office that he resigned almost immediately — but never submitted his resignation letter.
In an interview to promote his new book “Heart,” co-written with his cardiologist, Cheney told CBS News, “Basically, what I did was I resigned the vice presidency effective March 28, 2001.”
He wrote a full resignation letter, but left it in a desk drawer as “pending,” he said.
Cheney has suffered five heart attacks, the first occurring when he was 37 years old in 1978, the year before he began serving as a U.S. congressional representative from Wyoming. He served in Congress until 1989 when he resigned to become Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush, father of the president under whom Cheney later served as vice president.
Last year, at age 71, Cheney had a heart transplant.
Despite his troubling history of heart ailments, when the younger Bush picked Cheney as his running mate in 2000, a doctor told the Bush campaign that Cheney enjoyed “normal cardiac function.”
Asked about that during the CBS interview, Cheney became irritated.
“I didn’t seek the job,” he told interviewer Sanjay Gupta. “The president came to me and asked me to be his vice president. The party nominated me. The doctors that consulted on it reached a common conclusion and the people elected me. Now what basis do I override the decision making process?”
Though Cheney said he “didn’t seek the job,” he actually served the Bush campaign as head of its vice presidential search committee. When the search was concluded, the committee chaired by Cheney concluded that Cheney himself should become Bush’s running mate.
A reporter for the Washington Post, Barton Gellman, investigated the Bush campaign’s VP selection process and revealed that neither Cheney nor Bush interviewed any other candidates before Cheney got the nod.
Other candidates were interviewed later, to conceal that the process was rigged, Gellman wrote.
Sources: Atlantic Wire, CBS News, ThinkProgress, Barton Gellman Website