Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cheney's Tip to FSU Grads: Serendipity; Vice President's Commencement Speech Avoids Politics, Focuses on Life's "Unexpected Turns."

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cheney's Tip to FSU Grads: Serendipity; Vice President's Commencement Speech Avoids Politics, Focuses on Life's "Unexpected Turns."

Article excerpt

Byline: STEPHEN MAJORS, The Times-Union

TALLAHASSEE -- Vice President Dick Cheney, who said he impressed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as an impractical academic in the 1960s, sympathized with Florida State University graduates on Saturday.

"After these years of hard effort, something tells me you're not excited to hear another lecture before you leave," Cheney said in his commencement address to the FSU class of 2004. "So I'll keep it short."

After Cheney's politically laden commencement address to Westminster College in Missouri earlier in the week, in which he attacked Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as unfit for office, a political lecture was what some in the FSU community feared. But Cheney's 10-minute address to FSU graduates was devoid of any mention of Kerry, and included only brief references to President Bush and the war in the Middle East. It instead focused on life's unexpected turns and the good fortunes those turns can bring if followed.

Prior to Cheney's speech, several FSU students sent a letter to school President T.K. Wetherell asking that Cheney not use the commencement platform for presidential campaign fodder. A group of about 30 protesters outside the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center held signs with slogans such as "Cheney loves Halliburton" and "Cheney lies, GIs die."

John Thrasher, chairman of the FSU Board of Trustees and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, introduced the vice president -- the highest elected official ever to deliver an FSU commencement address -- to a standing ovation.

"Vice President Cheney's career stands as a model of service and accomplishment in leadership," Thrasher said. "We know that his message today will provide inspiration and guidance to our new graduates."

Cheney brought congratulations from President Bush, and asked for recognition for the 25 FSU students now serving in the Armed Forces in the Middle East. He told graduates that in 2000, before he was selected by President Bush to head the vice presidential search committee, he thought his time in public office was over. …

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