From Wyoming to the White House

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dick Cheney, the 46th vice president of the United States, entered office with unique qualifications. He had been White House chief of staff under one president and defense secretary under another, and he had run a major corporation. The child of Depression-era Democrats, he remains one of the bedrock conservatives of the Bush administration and the leading proponent of the expansion of presidential power.

Richard Bruce Cheney was born in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan. 30, 1941, and grew up in Casper, Wyo. His father was a soil-conservation agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His mother had been a softball star in the 1930s. In 1964, Cheney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne Vincent. After flunking out of Yale University, he earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in political science from the University of Wyoming, then dropped out of the doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin. During the Vietnam War, he received five draft deferments.

Cheney's political career began in 1968 on the staff of Rep. William Steiger (R-Wis.). The following year, he wrote a memo advising Donald H. Rumsfeld on how to organize the Nixon administration's new Office of Economic Opportunity. Impressed, Rumsfeld hired him for a staff job.

The young Cheney rose rapidly. By 1971 he was a White House staff assistant, and later that year he became assistant director of the Cost of Living Council. He left public service to work briefly as vice president of an investment firm before signing on to President Gerald R. Ford's transition team in 1974. In 1975, he was elevated to Ford's chief of staff.

After Jimmy Carter won the 1976 presidential election, Cheney worked briefly for a Wyoming bank before winning the first of five terms in Congress in 1978 and rising to minority whip. In 1989, he became President George H.W. Bush's defense secretary, overseeing the military during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. After Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Cheney spent seven years as chairman and chief executive of Halliburton, an oil services firm. He became George W. Bush's running mate in 2000.

Cheney is the father of two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, and is an avid hunter and fisherman.


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