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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

An interview yesterday between CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Vice President Dick Cheney has been getting a lot of attention. It got pretty feisty at times, especially on Iraq.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

In this exchange, the vice president was asked how much responsibility would fall to him and the administration if the U.S. were to fail in Iraq.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV INTERVIEW ON CNN)

RICHARD CHENEY: You know this is the argument that there wouldn't be any problem if we hadn't gotten into Iraq.

WOLF BLITZER: Well, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

CHENEY: Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would at this point be engaged in a nuclear arms race with Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran.

BLITZER: But he was being contained -

CHENEY: He was not being contained -

BLLITZER: - as we all know by the no-fly zone in the north and the south -

CHENEY: He was not being contained. Wolf, the entire sanction of his regime had been undermined by Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: But he didn't have stockpiles of -

CHENEY: He had corrupted the entire effort to try to keep him contained. He was bribing senior officials of other governments. The Oil for Food Program had been totally undermined. And he had in fact produced and used weapons of mass destruction previously. And he retained the capability to produce that kind of stuff in the future.

BLITZER: But that was in the '80s.

CHENEY: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf. But what we did in Iraq and taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do. The world is much safer today because of it.

BLOCK: That interview sounded very different than the president's State of the Union address just the day before. We asked White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten about that today.

JOSHUA BOLTEN: The president's tone in his State of the Union was intentionally non-confrontational. The president is going to go forward with the plans that he's announced. Congress does retain the power of the purse. They're choosing not to exercise that. But the president also recognizes that what's really counts here is what happens on the ground.

BLOCK: That's Joshua Bolten. You can hear more of my interview with the White House chief of staff elsewhere in the program.

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