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Obama Team Derides Cheney's Criticisms
In office for less than two months, the Obama administration has reminded the public with increasing frequency that it inherited a $1.2 trillion budget deficit, a 14-month-old recession and two wars. In the interview, Cheney suggested that Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan, expensive bailout plans that began under Bush and a $3.6 trillion budget proposal -- which the administration projects will cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term -- would "constitute the biggest or one of the biggest expansions of federal authority over the private economy in the history of the republic."
In response, Gibbs said, "I think not taking economic advice from Dick Cheney would be maybe the best possible outcome of yesterday's interview."
A Cheney adviser said the former vice president decided to accept the CNN invitation because he respects John King, host of the cable channel's "State of the Union" talk show, and wanted to offer his "real concerns" about Obama's economic and national security policies. King has known Cheney for 20 years and has interviewed him before for CNN.
"We've not coordinated our appearances with the Bush folks," the adviser said.
Mary Matalin, a former top Cheney adviser who remains a family friend and confidant, said, "There is no strategy [by Cheney] to reenter the national political dialogue." But she added: "There's no living human being with more experience at every level of government than the vice president."
"He has in his own portfolio, and has lived through what works and what doesn't, issues of war and peace, the economy and a panoply of other issues," she said.
Matalin said Cheney decided to speak now "to the extent that the more these policies add up, the more his concern grows."
"I think people are opening their minds, getting out of this fascination, honeymoon period," Matalin said, referring to the Obama administration. "They're entering a 'seeking information' period, and it's hard to break through the cacophony."
"People are listening more," Matalin said. "And they are not hearing anything else out there" from Republicans.
"I doubt that the Obama administration will care too much about what Cheney says," said John Feehery, former spokesman for then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "But if something does go wrong, there will be a record of opposition from the former vice president that people will refer to."
Staff writers Howard Kurtz and Perry Bacon Jr. and polling director Jon Cohen contributed to this report.