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...

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, based on experience, everything leaks. (Laughter.)

Q Another quick question about the Congress. You, perhaps, saw the Congressman Emmanuel, yesterday, who was responding to the President's press conference. I wondered what you --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't see him.

Q Can you give your quick thoughts on the presidential race, since we are Politico? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm -- we're scrupulously neutral in the process, and we need to be.

Q Mr. Vice President , another question: What are your plans for this year in regards to political travel and that sort of thing?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I will do whatever I can, that I'm asked to do by friends and colleagues, with respect to Congress, in particular, for the House and Senate. I did a fundraiser last evening in Dallas for Ralph Hall . I'll continue to do that, raise funds for the party and so forth; support the efforts with respect to 2008.

Q With the office on the House side that you lost last time, let's face it, the Republican Party -- if you look at the polls and look at the 2006 results -- it's got real problems. What does it need to do to, for example, improve its brand and its reputation in the hope now of getting that office back?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know. I look at it, and it looks to me like the Democrats have got at least as many, if not more, problems. You look at their standing; they've been in control now in the Congress for what, just under a year, with absolutely dismal ratings. They've produced absolutely nothing that I can see that's of benefit or consistent with the promises that they made when they went out and ran for election. I think the Republicans are going to do well next year.

Q You don't think there's some basic philosophical questions that the party ought to confront?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think the basic, fundamental philosophy of the Republican Party is the correct one, obviously. I believe that. I spent my whole career supporting it and think it ought to be sustained over time. I think it's important for us to be true to those basic political values that have been successful for us. We need to do what successful parties always do, which is go out and recruit good candidates, raise --

Q -- for what happened in 2006, when the party lost --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we've been there for 12 years. We had control for a long time, perhaps got a little sloppy as a party. But I think we've got some great talent up there. I think we've got some pretty good --

Q -- (inaudible) --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I look at -- obviously we've got -- John Boehner now is the Republican leader on the House side. I'm sorry to see my friend, Trent Lott , hang it up. Trent and I served together for a long time. We both arrived here in 1968 as young staffers and then served in the House together for 10 years, and are good friends to this day. So I'm sorry to see Trent step down, but understand.

But if you look -- coming along, Jon Kyl, looks like he's going to be the new Whip, extraordinarily capable individual, somebody I've served with in the House, a good friend. On the Republican side in the House, we've got folks like Eric Cantor and Adam Putnam . I mean, these are folks we're going to hear a lot from in the future. So I think we're well served in that regard.

Q Do you like Senator Thune ?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do. I hunt with the Senator -- he's a courageous man.

Q Can we just posit to you on Iraq , and that is, Mr. Vice President , on January 20, 2009 -- you get the afternoon off that day -- what is your best case for how Iraq will look, and how many troops do you think we'll have in Iraq ?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to make that forecast in terms of troop levels. I think what Dave Petraeus has been able to do, based on the decision the President made a little less than a year ago, has been the -- I think it's a remarkable success story; one of those military operations that will be studied for many, many years to come.