Wednesday, February 15, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney (seen center, right, walking back from his TV interview) on Wednesday accepted full blame for shooting a fellow hunter and defended his decision to not publicly disclose the accident until the following day. He called it "one of the worst days of my life."
"I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry," Cheney told Fox News Channel in his first public comments since the shooting Saturday in south Texas.
Cheney described seeing 78-year-old Harry Whittington fall to the ground after he pulled the trigger while aiming at a covey of quail.
"The image of him falling is something I'll never ever be able to get out of my mind," Cheney said. "I fired, and there's Harry falling. It was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life at that moment."
Cheney has been under intense political pressure to speak out about the shooting incident, which has become a public relations embarrassment and potential political liability for the White House. Until Wednesday, Cheney had refused to comment on why he withheld information about the shooting, which prolonged the controversy and made him the butt of jokes.
Cheney was soft-spoken and somber during the interview with Fox's Brit Hume.
"You can talk about all of the other conditions that exist at the time but that's the bottom line and -- it was not Harry's fault," he said. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."
Cheney said he had had a beer at lunch that day, but nobody was drinking when they went back out to hunt several hours later.Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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