WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday he supports President Bush's call for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, though one of his daughters is gay and he has said in the past the issue should be left to the states.
"The president's taken the clear position that he supports a constitutional amendment," Cheney said in an interview with MSNBC. "I support him."
Cheney said during the 2000 campaign, and again last month, that he prefers to see states handle the issue of gay marriage. His openly lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney, is an aide in the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, but the vice president declined to discuss her.
Cheney said he will be on Bush's ticket, as the president has said, although there is speculation to the contrary. Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, said his health has been good and he couldn't think of any circumstances that would prompt him to decline the role.
He dismissed talk that he has become a liability to Bush, with Democrats pounding the administration over allegations of profiteering in Iraq by oil-services giant Halliburton, which Cheney once headed, and the vice president's frequent but now much-doubted claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
"I think the fact that you become a lightning rod is, it goes with the turn," he said. "I'm not concerned about that."
Cheney's popularity with the public has dropped in recent weeks, according to the National Annenberg Election Survey. In October, 43 percent of the public had a favorable view of him and 26 percent had an unfavorable view. In the last two weeks of February, people were about evenly split, with 33 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable.
The vice president's popularity declined with most groups, with the biggest drop among Republicans.
The Annenberg's February survey of 2,700 people has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.