Interview of the Vice President

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- West Wing 10:35 A.M. EST Q It's an interesting time, so we really are eager to talk to you about especially a lot of the stuff that's happening on...


Q Mr. Vice President , what has Senator Reid been like to work with?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Difficult. He's -- I'll leave it at that. He's difficult.

Q Are you surprised at how partisan he's become, I mean, given both his state and his past politics? He has -- quite frankly, his past views on foreign policy have been -- (inaudible) -- Are you surprised that he's become so stridently anti-war, saying not long ago that the war is lost --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I obviously -- I have major differences with him. When he announced the war was lost, he was clearly wrong. And I -- the man I respect most on the other side of the aisle -- that nobody would be surprised about -- is Joe Lieberman . I see Joe willing to take on the powers that be, if you will, in what used to be his party -- I guess he's not formally a Democrat these days, although he caucuses with them. But I think what happened to Joe Lieberman says a lot about the party; that he was, in effect, purged by the Democrats on this issue because he supported the President on the war on Iraq , and obviously, defeated in the Democratic primary, ran as an independent, and won the election. And he's a very independent sort these days, which he can afford to be.

Q You mentioned Murtha. Did you see his comments on the surge the other day? What did you make of it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I thought Jack got it right when he came back and said the surge is working. I think it is. And I think anybody who will go over there and objectively look at that will, in fact, conclude that.

Q Mr. Vice President , now that the Democrats are the majority in both chambers, do you need to spend more time there, or less time? Or what it's like for you to go up there now, compared to before?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's interesting. I spent 10 years in the House. There was a time in my career when I expected that that's where I was going to spend it, was in the Congress. So I still -- I have an affection and a fondness for the Congress. I have a lot of good friends up there, people I served with. A lot of the guys I came in with as freshmen now are committee

chairmen, and they're playing a prominent role on both sides of the aisle. So I relish those guys and connections.

In this job -- I'm aware of the kerfuffle here a few months ago -- is he or isn't he; is he part of the executive branch, part of the legislative branch? And the answer really is, you've got a foot in both camps. I obviously work for the President. That's why I'm sitting here in the West Wing of the White House. But I also have a role to play in the Congress as the President of the Senate. I actually get paid -- that's where my paycheck comes from, is the Senate.

So I try to keep lines open to both sides of the Congress, both the House and the Senate. I had that office in the House for six years while we had the majority. I think I'm the first Vice President who ever had an office in the House -- on the House side as Vice President; something Denny Hastert and Bill Thomas arranged. Charlie Rangel got it back, obviously, when control switched, which was -- he's perfectly entitled to. That was the Old Ways and Means Committee space, just off the House floor.

Q Do you look at the policies of the Democratic Congress as pushing anything specifically related to fighting the war on terror -- (inaudible) -- detainees and other issues like that, but also the war on Iraq , given the descriptions that they're trying to put on -- (inaudible) -- If they were to prevail, what would that mean for the American people? I mean, do you -- I mean, if you sort of cut to the bone of what you guys say and what I think, I mean, do you -- would the country be significantly more at risk for a terrorist attack if they were to prevail in the fight in Iraq , if they were to prevail in the wiretapping legislation, if they were to prevail on their view dealing with detainees?