02 June 2008

Cheney Makes West Virginia A Punchline

Vice President Dick Cheney was wrapping up his Monday appearance at a National Press Club event when the final question from the audience addressed his apparent blood ties to Barack Obama.

Cheney went on to explain that research into his family tree revealed Cheneys on his mother's side of the family.

"So, I had Cheneys on both sides of the family, and we don't even live in West Virginia," the vice president quipped.

The remark drew laughter, and perhaps some groans, from the Washington, D.C. audience.

"You can say those things when you're not running for re-election," Cheney continued, to additional laughter and slight applause.

West Virginia officials were less than thrilled, as The Associated Press and others report.

"I truly cannot believe that any vice president of the United States, regardless of their political affiliation, would make such a derogatory statement about my state or any state for that matter," said Gov. Joe Manchin. The Democrat issued a statement requesting an apology.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-2nd, has benefited from Cheney headlining her fundraising events. "This is exactly the type of stereotyping that we don't need from our elected officials," she said in a statement. "It's disrespectful, and it's certainly not funny. ... As a proud state, I can say we are disappointed."

Noting that the Bush-Cheney ticket carried the Mountain State twice, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said that "now that he or the administration he represents no longer needs their vote, Mr. Cheney apparently feels that he is now free to mock and belittle the people of West Virginia."

As The Charleston Gazette reports, Cheney later apologized through a spokeswoman.

"The vice president's offhand comment was not meant to hurt anyone,'' Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said. "On reflection, he concluded that it was an inappropriate attempt at humor that he should not have made. The vice president apologizes to the people of West Virginia for the inappropriate remark.''

C-SPAN carried the afternoon event, and has video. Cheney responds to the question about 57 minutes into the event.

WSAZ-TV also has raw video and coverage.

Update: Others with coverage include The Washington Post and its blog The Sleuth; The Chicago Tribune's Beltway blog The Swamp, which also hosts video from MSNBC; the New York Daily News; and The New York Times, in an article titled "Cheney Discloses His Lighter Side."

MetroNews has an item and audio.

No comments: