May 7th, 2009
08:53 PM ET
14 years ago

Cheney: Mistake for GOP to 'moderate'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Cheney said the GOP needs to hold onto its principles."](CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney is weighing into the heated internal debate over the future of the Republican Party, declaring it would be a mistake for the GOP to "moderate."

"This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles," Cheney said in an interview with North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen Thursday, according to a transcript.

"You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy," Cheney also said. "I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, 'Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'"

Cheney's comments come a week after longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter formally left the GOP, in part, Specter said, because the party has "moved farther and farther to the right."

Specter's defection immediately unleashed a debate among Republicans over what type of candidates the party should embrace going forward as it seeks to regain control in Washington and establish a foothold in regions of the country where the GOP once dominated.

Earlier: Specter defection highlights GOP divide in South Carolina

In the interview Thursday, Cheney also said it's time for the older leaders of the party - like him - to exit the stage.

"I think periodically we have to go through one these sessions. It helps clear away some of the underbrush ... some of the older folks who’ve been around a long time — like yours truly — need to move on and make room for that young talent that’s coming along," he said.

Cheney also defended the use of water-boarding in the lengthy interview with the conservative talk-show host Thursday, an interrogation technique that President Obama has sharply criticized and put an end to.

"We resorted … to waterboarding, which is the source of much of the controversy, with only three individuals. In those cases, it was only after we'd gone through all the other steps of the process," he said. "The way the whole program was set up was very careful, to use other methods and only to resort to the enhanced techniques in those special circumstances."

Cheney also reiterated his call on President Obama to declassify documents he says show the success of aggressive interrogation techniques.

"If anybody takes a look at the record, they'll find that we had significant success as a result of these policies," he said. "One way to nail that down is that there are two documents in particular that I personally have read and know about that are still classified in that National Archives," he said.

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