Liz Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's other daughter, said Tuesday that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had no business dragging her sister's sexual orientation into the presidential debate and said it should not be an issue in this year's election.
"I was surprised that Senator Kerry would raise it, and I think it is unprecedented for a candidate for the presidency to sort of exploit the child of one of his opponents for political gain. That did surprise me. I thought that was out of bounds, and I think what you have seen as a result of that is a lot of folks across the country really wondering what sort of a person would do that. It was sort of an insight into the character of Senator Kerry," she said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Liz Cheney said her sister Mary's sexual orientation should not be an issue in this year's election. "I don't think Mary should be part of this campaign. I think issues having to do with the war on terror, having to do with the economy, having to do with health care--those are all critically important issues, and those are the ones we 're spending a lot of our time focused on," she said.
Mary Cheney, 35, has lived for years in Conifer, Colo., in the foothills west of Denver, and runs operations in her father's campaign office. Liz Cheney said her sister is currently living with her parents in Washington, D.C., and commutes to Denver on weekends. Prior to that, Mary Cheney worked as a gay and lesbian outreach coordinator for Golden, Colo.-based Coors Brewing Co. She quit that job before her father's 2000 campaign.
Liz Cheney, who is 38, was appearing at a University of Denver forum about the need for women to vote. President Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were also at the forum.
On Monday, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, said she was troubled by the Republican backlash over comments made by her husband and Kerry about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation. "I'm distressed that what it did was distract from what should have been a
dialogue over issues that were raised during the third debate--domestic policy issues like health care and jobs and education," she said at a campaign stop in Denver.
During a debate with the vice president, John Edwards said he respected the Cheneys because they are willing to acknowledge they have a lesbian daughter and are willing to embrace her. Debating President Bush last week, Kerry referred to Mary Cheney when asked by the moderator whether he thinks homosexuality is a choice. "We're all God's children," Kerry said. "And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice."
In an interview with Fox News Channel to be broadcast Wednesday night, the vice president called the comments made about his lesbian daughter "offensive" and "part of a political strategy" and suggested it was "just one more example of a candidate who is prepared to say anything in order to advance his political cause." Elizabeth Edwards said it was President Bush who tried to politicize the gay rights issue by supporting a constitutional amendment that would ban legal recognition of gay marriages.