Cheney: "We didn't get elected to be popular"

No matter what the people think, the vice president says he and his boss are doing what's right.

Published May 11, 2007 1:24PM (EDT)

Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on Fox News as nearly 200 members of Congress voted to begin withdrawing from Iraq in 90 days and the press reveled at news that a group of moderate Republicans had confronted the president about the war:

"We didn't get elected to be popular. We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party. Our mission is to do everything we can to prevail on what is now, we believe, a global conflict, a fundamental test of the character of the American people, whether or not we're going to be able to prevail against one of the most evil opponents we've ever faced. And on our watch, we're going to do absolutely everything we can to see to it that we do succeed and that we do prevail in that conflict, and sometimes that means that we don't do well in the polls or people want to be critical. That's their prerogative. But we sit there every morning and read the intelligence reports in the Oval Office and we know what's happening out there. We know how committed our adversaries are to try to get at us. And we've done what we thought was right for the country."

Asked how he feels about being portrayed as a "sinister figure, as this coldblooded warmonger who doesn't care about the number of body bags going back," Cheney said: "Well, obviously, any casualty is to be regretted. Nobody likes to be in the position where they have to make those kinds of decisions." Then he made it clear that the buck stops ... well, not with him. "Obviously," Cheney said, "the president bears the major part of the burden. He's the man with the authority to commit the force."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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