SHERIDAN — A Republican willing to give up self or party for the benefit of the country — that’s who Dick Cheney wants to see as the next president.
Richard Nixon resigned from the office of president on Aug. 9, 1974, amid a cloud of scandal. On Sept. 8, not a month later, President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon of any wrongdoing.
At the annual Reagan Day Dinner fundraiser Saturday, former Vice President Cheney said that pardon probably lost Ford any chance at retaining the presidency, but it was the right thing to do.
“(Ford) knew this full well when he did it, it might well cost him re-election,” Cheney said. “He wasn’t thinking politically, he wasn’t thinking about ‘Am I gonna be able to get re-elected?’”
For Cheney, any person who wants to be president has to have the ability to go with his or her gut instinct. Cheney recounted the day of Ford’s funeral, when he gave the eulogy in the rotunda at the Capitol.
“He had the courage of his convictions,” Cheney said. “He did something that was very very difficult; he knew it was going to cost him politically, maybe cost him the presidency, but he went ahead and did it anyway. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Cheney’s comments were made in response to a question posed by his daughter, Liz Cheney, who asked her father which Republican candidate he wants to see as president.
The night was centered around fundraising for local Republicans, and for Liz and Dick Cheney it was a good time to talk about their book “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America.”
But before the speech, the dinner and the political thrashings that are common at any function built around the promotion of a single political party, there was a slow stampede to shake hands with the most powerful man Wyoming has ever sent to Washington, D.C.
A cloud of bodies hung thick around Cheney, while they took turns shaking his hand and taking pictures with him.
He spoke softly in response to questions, so quietly in fact that many had to lean in to hear him.
Matt Willey, who works at the Historic Sheridan Inn where the event was taking place, had trouble crossing the room.
“There’s no getting through that,” he said.
But eventually the hand shaking and picture taking was broken up.
Soon after, state officials talked about the party and built up to the Cheneys’ talk.
State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, Treasurer Mark Gordon and Superintendent Jillian Balow all spoke about the party and the future. But the room wasn’t quiet until Cheney spoke, and only remained silent until he finished.
He spoke about the Hillary Clinton email scandal, Joe Biden joining the presidential race and the Obama administration.
But more than all that, he spoke about the United States and the country’s past, present and future.
“The U.S. is an irrelevancy,” he said while talking about U.S. military might and his book.
Cheney focused for a bit on the decreasing defense budget, but left it to his book to tell the rest of the story.
“We’ve allowed decay to set in,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of time to recover.”