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Dick Cheney served four Republican presidents and spent six terms in the House. The former Vice President specialized in defense, energy, and the Middle East.
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Born January 30, 1941, Dick Cheney entered politics in 1968. He worked for President Nixon and was Gerald Ford's chief of staff (1975-1977). Cheney then served six terms in Congress before being appointed secretary of defense by George Bush.
Politician. Dick Cheney was born on January 30, 1941, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to parents Richard Herbert Cheney, a soil-conservation agent, and Marjorie Lauraine Dickey Cheney, a former softball player. Cheney grew up in Casper, Wyoming, a town he would later describe as being idyllic with a classic 1950s feel. It was there that he met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Lynne Vincent.
Upon graduating from high school, Cheney was accepted to Yale University and offered a full-ride scholarship. He enrolled, but eventually dropped out. "I spent a total of four semesters [at Yale], but I was not a diligent student. Really wasn't. Hadn't given it any thought. Wasn't gonna go to college and buckle down. Big transition going from small-town Wyoming to New Haven, Connecticut." When not attending classes, he worked as a power lineman in a working-class town. Although Yale had not suited Cheney, he decided to pursue college once more. He enrolled at the University of Wyoming, where he received a B.A. in political science in 1965 and an M.A. in political science in 1966. During his time as a student, Cheney applied for and received five draft deferments and thus avoided being drafted in the Vietnam War; he would later say that he "would have obviously been happy to serve had I been called," but "I had other priorities in the 60's than military service." Cheney and Lynne married in 1964, and would have two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary.
With two degrees under his belt, Dick Cheney started his political career in 1965. He worked as a part-time legislative intern to the Wyoming Senate legislature, which had a Republican majority. Cheney and his wife, both of whom had been raised in Democratic households, began professionally associating as Republicans. After Cheney won a national writing contest for student political scientists, he was offered a position as an aide to the Wisconsin governor. He and Lynn both enrolled in PhD programs at University of Wisconsin at Madison. Lynn received her doctorate in English, but Cheney had not yet finished his dissertation when he received a fellowship to work in Washington, D.C. for Congressman Bill Steiger, a Wisconsin Republican. Cheney later indicated that he wanted to go into politics because of his dissatisfaction with ivory tower academia: "I was always struck, because [there were] a lot of complaints about the administration, the management of the university, oftentimes about the students — sort of critical of everybody out there, because the place was chaotic at that time. There were days when the National Guard was out with its tear gas trying to control the protesters. These folks were unhappy with what was happening, but in all the time I'd been in Wisconsin not one of these folks had ever stood up and been counted on either side of the debate.
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