Expanding Authority for No. 2 Spot
In 1980, as Ford was being wooed to run for vice president, Cheney played a key role in re-imagining the job
'If there is precedent for Dick Cheney's role, according to former vice president Dan Quayle, it is the might-have-been second vice presidency of Gerald R. Ford.
Pollsters spoke of a "dream ticket" after Ronald Reagan won the 1980 Republican nomination and talk turned to Ford as his No. 2. Aides to both men tried to negotiate arrangements that might lure a former commander in chief into a secondary position.
Contemporary accounts said Ford was represented by former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger and others. But at a 2000 conference of former White House chiefs of staff, Cheney disclosed that he had been deeply involved. He recalled an intense debate about how to shape expanded lines of authority in a job often ridiculed as largely ceremonial.
Ford "made a number of requests in terms of his influence over the budget, personnel, foreign policy, et cetera," Cheney said. "I can remember sitting in a session with Bill Casey, who later became CIA director. Bill had a list of items that in fact the Reagan people were prepared to discuss. They went a long way toward trying to accommodate President Ford."
Tempted, but wary of splintering presidential authority, Ford finally withdrew his name. Quayle, looking back on it, said Cheney appears to have accepted much the same deal.
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