In the sitting room of his official residence last Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney sat down with TIME's Mike Allen and James Carney for a rare print interview. Excerpts:
•What do you think a Democratic Congress would be like?
I don't expect that to happen. I'm optimistic that we're going to hold both the House and the Senate. One of the things I talk about on the campaign trail is the importance of what we've been able to do with tax policy. How our changes in tax policy--especially in '03--stimulated a recovery that's generated 6.6 million new jobs. Just today, the Dow broke through the 12,000 mark, first time ever for the Dow Jones industrial. I think a lot of that goes back to what we were able to do with cutting taxes on investments, on dividends and cap gains and so forth. All of that is at risk if there were to be a Democratic Congress.
•How badly do you think the Mark Foley scandal has hurt Republican candidates?
I don't think it's hurt our candidates generally. Obviously, it's a terrible situation. I think appropriate action has been taken. Investigations are under way to find out what happened. The place where it's likely to have an impact, clearly, would be in Foley's district. But beyond that, I don't sense that it's the kind of issue that has an impact on Wyoming or California or Texas.
•How long do you think it will be before the average American sees going to Iraq as a good idea?
I think that will all depend upon the final outcome. It's difficult for people to judge week to week. I think we've done the right thing. I think we're doing the right thing now. I firmly believe that. The President firmly believes it. I think the world is better off with Saddam Hussein in jail, on trial, than in power. Right next door today in Iran you've got Mr. Ahmadinejad off and running trying to develop nuclear weapons. The only thing that would be more volatile is if you also had Saddam Hussein trying to develop nuclear weapons in Baghdad. Establishing a democratic government, getting rid of the old regime, closing down a major state sponsor of terror, shutting off Saddam Hussein's practice of making payments to the families of suicide bombers--we've done good work to get this far. We've got more to do. It's going to be tough to finish the task, but I think it's very important that we complete the task.
•Do you think that in your lifetime going to Iraq will be widely seen as visionary?
I do. I don't see any way you can argue, for example, that what happens in Iraq isn't going to have an impact on Musharraf in Pakistan or Karzai in Afghanistan. The key to a workable strategy in that part of the world against al-Qaeda, and the Islamic radicals that we're at war with, is to get the locals into the fight. They've got to take responsibility for their own governments, for their own security. That's what's happened in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where having them working with us in the intelligence arena to capture and kill al-Qaeda has been absolutely essential. Same thing in Saudi Arabia.