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Cheney dismisses speculation, says he'll stay on Bush ticket

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday he cannot envision any circumstance in which he would not run for a second term, saying President Bush has been ''very clear he doesn't want to break up the team."

There has been persistent speculation that Cheney would step down for political or health reasons.

Indeed, The New York Times reported today that rumors about Cheney's status on the ticket are rampant in Washington, fed in large part by Cheney's dismissal of his personal doctor. The Times said some Democratic members of Congress think the change in physicians will enable a new doctor to say Cheney's heart problems make him unable to stand the rigors of the campaign and office.

But Cheney was adamant in the C-SPAN interview, scheduled for broadcast Sunday, about running.

''He's made his decision," Cheney said of Bush. ''I've made mine. I suppose right now, because we're in the run-up to the convention, people don't have much to talk about, so you get speculation on that. It's normal. When we get to the convention, I think that'll put an end to it."

While the GOP's conservative base has supported Cheney, some Republicans have suggested that he should be replaced. He has had four heart attacks, and his approval ratings have dropped amid questions regarding the Iraq war and the terror attacks of 2001.

Asked whether he could envision circumstances in which he would step aside, Cheney told C-SPAN: ''Well, no, I can't. If I thought that were appropriate, I certainly would. But [Bush has] made it very clear that he wants me to run again. The way I got here in the first place was that he persuaded me four years ago that I was the man he wanted in that post, not just as a candidate but as somebody to be part of the governing team."

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