Cheney raises $200,000 for Vermont Republican Party

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(Host) Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday in Vermont that Iraq’s offer to allow weapons inspectors to return is a ploy to deflect action by the United Nations. Cheney also warned that terrorist cells based in 50 to 60 countries still threaten the United States.

VPR’s John Dillon was at the Burlington airport.

(Sound of Cheney’s jet taxiing.)

(Dillon) The vice president touched down in Burlington for a brief visit to raise money for Republicans.

As more than a hundred protesters chanted outside, Cheney told the crowd gathered in a airport hangar that Iraq must disarm now or face U.S. action. He said the world must decide whether the United Nations resolutions against Iraq have worked to contain Saddam Hussein’s military:

(Cheney) “The question for the international community is whether the Security Council resolutions will be enforced or disregarded without consequence, whether the United Nations will be effective or irrelevant.”

(Dillon) Cheney also met with members of the Vermont Air National Guard and thanked them for the many missions they’ve flown since last year’s attacks. Cheney told them the U.S. still could be the target of terrorist groups based in 50 or 60 countries.

But Cheney spent most of his visit at a reception with Republican donors. He praised Republican gubernatorial candidate James Douglas and said the Vermont governor’s race is being closely watched in Washington.

(Cheney) “The governor’s race is important to me and to the president because we respect Jim Douglas and his record of public service and we know he’ll be a fine governor for Vermont.”

(Dillon) Cheney’s visit raised about $200,000. About half of that will go to the Douglas campaign.

Ten members of the G0P paid $5,000 each for a short meeting with the vice president. Sixty-five other donors paid $2,000 have their picture taken with him. GOP National Committeeman Skip Vallee says he’s very pleased with the turnout:

(Vallee) “I think it’s probably the biggest fundraiser Vermont’s seen, so I would consider it a success.”

(Dillon) But Cheney’s talk about war and his ability to draw large donations didn’t please several hundred protesters gathered outside the airport.

(Sound of protesters chanting, “$5,000 a bite, how many kids would that feed tonight!!” “Cowards! Sign up for the first wave!”)

(Dillon) Protester Nancy Farrell from Burlington says the U.S. has to work with other countries and not act alone against Iraq.

(Farrell) “I feel deeply that if we go into Iraq it’s all going to come back on us. The bully always gets it in the end. We do not have world support. It’s extremely dangerous. There are other ways we’ve got to learn how to live.”

(Dillon) Vice President Cheney said the U.S. has to be prepared to use force to disarm Iraq. But the protesters said the anti-war movement is just starting to get mobilized in this country.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in South Burlington.

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