Kansas City, Mo Dick Cheney says he's a "man of few words" who prefers low-key campaign events without a lot of hoopla, unlike his Democratic rival.
"It's sort of in keeping with my quiet, low-key demeanor," the Republican vice presidential candidate said Tuesday after brief remarks to a Christian athletic group. "I come from the West, a man of few words."
His appearance at the national headquarters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes was quiet, organized and relatively brief. Attended by about 75 people, it had no flag-waving crowds or campaign slogans shouted through a bullhorn.
Quite different from the hoopla that usually accompanies events for GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush and Democrats Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman.
Cheney said he learned to be brief when he served in the House, where speech is limited. "Joe's from Connecticut, comes from the Senate where they make a lot longer speeches," Cheney said.
The former defense secretary also didn't seem to know quite when to begin speaking Tuesday. He was introduced by Kansas City Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, who said he hoped Bush and Cheney would lead the country "not only politically, but in a spiritual way." Sweeney presented Cheney with a fellowship T-shirt and sat down as the crowd applauded.
Cheney stayed seated until his wife, Lynne, whispered to him that it was his turn.
He talked about Bush's education program and its emphasis on teaching children about character. "Yes, we want them to read and write, but we want them to know right from wrong," Cheney said.
While he was brief, Cheney was more emphatic than he has been in drawing contrasts with the Democrats. He criticized Gore for opposing school vouchers federal grants for parents to use to pay for private schooling for kids in failing public schools.
"Al Gore does not support the idea of giving low-income parents a wide range of choices," he said.
Gore favors, among other education proposals, raising teacher pay and providing incentives for schools to improve kids' test scores.
While the theme was character, others discussed religion. Sweeney, a fellowship member, said more important than baseball is "my relationship with Jesus Christ."
Erika Garris, a 16-year-old track-runner and fellowship member, said she had dedicated her life to God and had decided to stay off drugs and abstain from premarital sex. "I stand here today professing God as my savior."
The privately funded group encourages students and coaches to practice Christian values and influence others to get involved with churches.
The Bush-Cheney campaign approached the organization about having an event at its center.
Cheney said he wasn't striking any religious themes. He said the Bush campaign supports faith-based groups. "It doesn't require anyone to buy into a particular set of religious beliefs or philosophical concerns," he said.