KWAME HOLMAN: For three and a half years, Dick Cheney has quietly shaped policy in the Bush White House. It's a familiar role for Cheney. George W. Bush is the fourth president he has served.
Cheney grew up in Casper, Wyoming, where he met and later married his high school sweetheart, the former Lynne Vincent. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary. During the Vietnam War, Cheney received five separate deferments exempting him from military service.
After holding a low-level position in the Nixon White House, a young Dick Cheney was tapped by President Gerald Ford to be his chief of staff. After President Ford lost in 1976, Cheney returned to Wyoming and ran for Congress, winning the state's single House seat in 1978. During that race, Cheney suffered the first of several heart attacks.
DICK CHENEY: There are really only two reasons to vote against this proposal.
KWAME HOLMAN: Cheney quickly worked his way into the leadership ranks of the then minority party in the House, racking up one of the most conservative voting records of any member.
KWAME HOLMAN: In 1989, the first President Bush named Cheney secretary of defense. Two years later, U.S. troops went to war, driving Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. Cheney left public life after Republicans lost the White House in 1992.
He became CEO of Halliburton, a Texas-based energy services company. It made him a millionaire, but his tenure there has proven controversial since. Halliburton has been heavily scrutinized as a prime beneficiary of government contracts for reconstruction work in Iraq.
In 2000, Cheney headed the vice presidential search team for George W. Bush and was its surprise choice.
DICK CHENEY, July 2000: I look forward to working with you, governor, to change the tone in Washington, to restore a spirit of civility and respect and cooperation.
KWAME HOLMAN: But controversy also has been a hallmark of Cheney's term. Early on, his taskforce of private sector advisors on energy policy worked in secrecy, bringing criticism that the panel was biased toward the energy industry. A lawsuit ended in a Supreme Court ruling that Cheney did not have to reveal the advisors' names.
On Sept. 11, 2001, with the president out of town, Cheney was in charge at the White House. He would spend time sequestered in an "undisclosed location," and away from the president to ensure the line of presidential succession. Later, Cheney was a strong advocate for the invasion of Iraq.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY, August 23, 2003: Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
KWAME HOLMAN: No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. And on the question of Iraq's involvement in the 9/11 attacks, the vice president has said it remains to be seen whether Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida cooperated.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY, CNBC Capital Report: There's clearly been a relationship. There's a separate question. The separate question is, was Iraq involved with al-Qaida in the attack on 9/11?
GLORIA BORGER, CNBC Capital Report: Was Iraq involved?
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: We don't know.
KWAME HOLMAN: The 9/11 Commission report said Iraq played no collaborative role in the attacks.
Cheney has been a strong voice for administration policies with one prominent exception: He opposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY, August 25, 2004: Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with. My general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free... ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.
KWAME HOLMAN: On the campaign trail this year, Cheney has taken on the time-honored role for vice presidents, attacking the challengers.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY, July 16, 2004: These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds... (applause) ...saying one thing one day and another the next. And that brings to mind our opponents in this campaign.
KWAME HOLMAN: But the vice president also has tried to show a lighter side.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Somebody said to me the other day that Sen. Edwards got picked because he's sexy, good-looking, charming. I said, "How do you think I got this job?" (Laughter and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Dick Cheney will make the case later tonight that he and the president should keep their jobs.