Cheney's turn to call, but lines were all busy

Calls for other guest inundated radio show

March 08, 2001|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney was making a scheduled call to WFMN Super Talk Radio in Mississippi to promote the administration's tax cut. The last thing he expected was no answer.

Cheney, sitting at a phone in the West Wing on Feb. 22, hung up and tried again. And again. And again four more times. All he got was lots of rings, and nobody picked up.

The vice president had been scheduled to tape a five-minute interview with Paul Gallo, a conservative talk-show host, on "The Gallo Radio Show."

It was one of a dozen interviews Cheney has done in recent weeks, far from the Washington radar screen, to pitch the $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan and pressure Democrats - in their districts - who are wavering on the plan, or who represent areas where President Bush fared well in the election.

But at WFMN 97.3 FM, the 21 phone lines were occupied.

Listeners, as it turns out, were captivated by another guest, Dave Ramsey, a syndicated radio personality out of Nashville who dispenses financial planning advice. The producers had not set up a line for the veep.

So many people called to chat with Ramsey that Cheney eventually gave up.

The White House rescheduled Cheney's taping for the next Thursday. It aired March 2.

Cheney wanted to target Rep. Ronnie Shows, a Democrat who is still undecided on whether to support the Bush tax-cut in a House vote today. Cheney's interviewer was more than accommodating.

Gallo: "How important is it for citizens to call their congressman, or congresswoman as the case may be, about Mr. Bush's tax plan?"

Cheney: "Well, it's very important, Paul."

Gallo (later): "I'm taking it for granted most of Mississippi's leadership is behind this tax plan. ... I know we have a problem. ... with Representative Ronnie Shows."

Cheney: "We hope he'll favorably consider the president' s bill.

"Members will have the opportunity to stand up and be counted on the basis of whether or not they support those fundamental principles we ran on, and the people of Mississippi voted overwhelmingly for."

Show's spokesman, Burns Strider, said the congressman was "disappointed" that the White House had targeted Shows' constituents instead of approaching him personally - and without telling Shows about the interview.

For his part, Gallo said he was "privileged" to have Cheney on. He apologized for the station's phone lines which, he said, rarely become so clogged.

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