Vice President will be armed with knife, handguns, possibly assault rifle, "just in case"
(Washington) Vice President Dick Cheney plans to be "armed to the teeth" during Tuesday's debate with Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards, report sources close to the Republican campaign.
Mr. Cheney, an avid hunter and ardent supporter of the right of all Americans to carry guns, semi-automatic rifles, and in some cases tactical nuclear weapons, will appear on the debate stage wearing full body armor under a camouflage United States Army uniform, with hand grenades strapped to his chest, a holstered .45 caliber handgun at his side, and a six-inch titanium Ranger knife concealed "in an undisclosed location" somewhere on his person. Ostensibly, his costume is intended to honor U.S. forces stationed in Iraq. In reality, it will give him the option of "kicking major Democratic ass," according to Republican sources.
Political observers who are familiar with Mr. Cheney's intimidating demeanor at Cabinet meetings believe the Vice President will waste no time attempting to put a damper on Mr. Edwards's customarily slashing, highly effective debating style. For example, should the Democrat bring up the now-generally acknowledged lack of connection between Saddam Hussein and the September 11 terrorists, Mr. Cheney might unstrap his handgun, snap a fresh shell into the chamber and place the weapon within reach on the podium. A contentious exchange on health care might result in the Vice President's thrown commando knife quivering in the wall within inches of Mr. Edward's face. At the mention of Halliburton, "out come the grenades," predicted one observer.
A spokesman for Mr. Edwards said that while the North Carolina native is a friend of the National Rifle Association and an enthusiastic duck hunter, for the debate the candidate plans to carry "nothing heavier than a small caliber revolver in a shoulder holster. Oh, and pepper spray, of course."
Tuesday will hardly be the first time that the Vice President has displayed or used weapons on the campaign trail. Since the Republican convention in August, Mr. Cheney has regularly introduced himself at political appearances by firing off a burst from a battered AK-47-sometimes into the air, sometimes at nearby birds or squirrels. At a rally in Columbus, Ohio in September, Mr. Cheney accidentally wounded a 14-year old female supporter and killed the puppy she was holding. The young Republican declined to press charges, saying, "I guess that's the price of freedom, and I guess little Skippy [her dog] found out the hard way."