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Cheney changes voter registration, boosts Bush running mate chances

JACKSON, Wyo. — Dick Cheney walked into the county clerk's office alone on Friday, changed his voter registration from Texas to Wyoming and boosted his chances of becoming George W. Bush's running mate.

If Cheney had kept his registration in Texas, where he now lives and where Bush is governor, he might be prohibited from sharing the Republican ticket. The 12th Amendment of the Constitution forbids the Electoral College voters in Texas from voting for both the president and vice president who are "inhabitants" of their state.

Cheney made the voter registration change just in time.

Friday was the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 22 primary in Wyoming, where Cheney grew up and went to school and where he served as a representative to Congress. Cheney filled out the paperwork around 11 a.m., said Teton County Election Administrator Sharon Nethercott.

Cheney has a home in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and spends a considerable amount of time there, according to Wyoming Secretary of State Joe Meyer.

The change in registration was the first signal that Bush is seriously considering the former defense secretary as his running mate, two highly placed GOP officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Cheney also is the man heading up Bush's running mate search team.

Bush said he has not finalized his decision but will do so this weekend while pondering the decision in the privacy of his Texas ranch.

News that Cheney is the leading candidate surprised two friends.

Maggie Scarlett said Cheney has said he is not interested in being vice president. A Republican National Convention delegate, Scarlett said she has known the Cheneys more than 30 years.

"I'm thrilled with the possibility and grateful he would consider," Scarlett said. "I think he would be a very strong candidate in his own right for whatever office he chose to run for. I think for the nation and for all of us it would be great."

Jan Larimer, a Republican national committeewoman who is cochair of the upcoming GOP national convention, said there has been no talk around Philadelphia about Cheney's chances of becoming Bush's running mate.

Larimer helped with all of Cheney's congressional campaigns. Her home is a few minutes from Cheney's Jackson Hole residence and she said her family and Cheney's are close.

"He is a man of incredible integrity. What you get with Dick is what you see. He is capable and competent and, golly, his knowledge and experience and expertise in government on the national and international scene is pretty remarkable."