How Dick Cheney Helped Elect Barack Obama

The day that George W. Bush decided to keep Dick Cheney on his ticket for a second term is the day that Barack Obama became the odds-on favorite to win the White House in 2008.

Don’t believe me? Consider the following…

Dick Cheney, a man whom I admire and a person with one of the most extensive public service resumes of the past 50 years, was asked by George W. Bush to head up his vice presidential search committee in 2000. After considering dozens of potential candidates, Bush settled on the man leading the search: Dick Cheney.

Not a bad call, since George W. was a relative novice to Washington in general and to the halls of Congress in particular. And if you watched the vice presidential debate between Joe Lieberman and Cheney, you knew that W. picked a good man for the job despite the fact that Wyoming’s three electoral votes were already safely in the GOP column.

After mentoring President Bush for four years, Cheney had a perfect opportunity to graciously bow out at the top of his game. Plagued by heart problems, Cheney could have exited stage left, freeing Bush to name a younger and more vibrant man as his heir apparent…

Does the name J.C. Watts mean anything to you? It does to me, because the former Canadian League football player and Baptist minister was a recently retired congressman from Oklahoma at the time. First elected in 1994, the voters returned him to the House three more times by increasingly large margins. Watts was photogenic, a gifted speaker – note his being selected to give the Republican response to the State of the Union address in 1997 – a minority and a college football icon. He was also the darling of evangelicals and conservatives across the country. Best of all, he was only 47 years old in 2004.

However, instead of stepping aside and allowing Bush to tap a fresh face that he could groom as his successor, Cheney remained on the ticket that narrowly won re-election. And when 2008 rolled around, no one was seriously considering Dick for the presidential nomination, creating a massive void that needed to be filled.

As is their habit, the Republican Party consulted its archaic playbook and settled on the candidate whose turn had supposedly arrived: Sen. John McCain. Mirroring 1996 when it was Bob Dole who had paid his party dues, McCain lost decisively to a younger and less qualified man.

But what if Cheney had been dropped from the ticket – willingly or otherwise – and J.C. Watts had been named to replace him? Do you really think that Barack Obama would have been nominated by the Democrats or been victorious in the general election?

I trust that Gov. Romney will learn a lesson from the 2008 Republican debacle and pick a younger officeholder with a serious upside to balance his ticket. Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Bobby Jindal come readily to mind.

But if the past is indeed prologue, he may select a solid but boring establishment politician like U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to serve as his running mate. If he does, the uphill climb to victory in November becomes even tougher sledding. And win, lose or draw, the GOP will once again lack an heir apparent to pass the baton to in 2016 or 2020.


Dale Glading

Dale Glading

For 24 years, Dale Glading served as Founder and Executive Director of The Saints Prison Ministry. During that time, The Saints grew from a fledgling non-profit organization into America’s largest athletic prison ministry with a national headquarters in Moorestown, New Jersey and branch offices in Colorado Springs, Richmond, Charlotte and Atlanta. Under Dale’s leadership, Saints athletic teams played and ministered in over 350 different correctional facilities in 25 states and Canada. As a result of those visits, more than 300,000 inmates were exposed to the Gospel message and 23,000 of them made professions of faith in Jesus Christ. In 2008 and 2010, Dale ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey’s 1st District. Although he didn’t win, Dale still managed to earn more votes than any member of his party in over 35 years. More importantly, he shared his faith openly on the campaign trail as he sought to defend the Judeo-Christian principles our great country was founded upon. Dale earned a Bachelor of Science degree with summa cum laude honors in Community Recreation from Temple University in 1981. He served as Recreation Director at the Wiley Christian Retirement Community for 10 years before entering full-time ministry with The Saints in 1994. A licensed minister and a published author (Unconditional Surrender – 2007); (Difference Makers - 2009); and (Consumed by Christ – 2011), Dale formed “Risk Takers for Christ” in 2011 to challenge believers to step out in faith and live life to its fullest for Jesus Christ. Dale and his wife Deanna have been married for 26 years and have three adult children.


  1. About time we stop picking candidates for flash. Competence should be more important. Portman is a smart cookie! We could do much worse.

  2. Better yet if Bush 2 had picked someone like Colin Powell would we even have an Obama today?

  3. I hope Portman isn't chosen. Having a boring next-in-line member of the political establishment as his VP will do little to win over independent and conservative voters who are already tepid at best on Mitt.

    Also, as Budget Chairman for Bush, Portman will bring Bush back to the debate and will force Mitt to have to defend massive deficits, the bailout and the largest domestic spending increase since LBJ.

    I love Bush, but he wasn't a small government conservative. And whatever Senator Portman may claim about himself, he still rubber stamped rampant spending that no conservative would sign off on. Portman will only confirm the fears of conservatives about Mitt's true conservative credentials.

    And Portman will do nothing to put Ohio in play any more than putting Governor Christie on the ticket would be put NJ in play.

    No to Portman for VP.

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