SHELTON, Conn. -- Dick Cheney acknowledged Friday he failed to vote in 14 of the past 16 elections in Texas, hitting the Republican presidential ticket with a new controversy as nominee George W. Bush struggles to gain traction.
Responding to a published report, Cheney defended his lapse -- including a failure to vote in the March presidential primary -- by saying he was busy traveling and had little interest in Texas issues.
Asked why voters should bother to vote for him when he failed to vote so many times himself, the GOP vice presidential nominee told reporters: "If they look at the facts, I think they'll say I have participated in the political system for all of my life." He said he has voted in every general election over the past 22 years.
Still, the details of Cheney's spotty voting record, first reported Friday in the Dallas Morning News, created yet another day of distraction for a GOP ticket that has stumbled through several recent mishaps.
Karen Hughes, Bush's communications director, said Bush "would certainly encourage everyone to vote."
She said: "I understand that Secretary Cheney was out of the country and did unfortunately miss some votes in his local community in Dallas."
On Friday Cheney spent the day on the defensive. Reporters peppered him with questions about his voting record.
Asked if local elections aren't as important as federal elections -- particularly given the Republican Party's emphasis on local control -- Cheney said: "I'm sure they are for people that are in, connected with them, but I also traveled a great deal ... I was not involved in community affairs very extensively in Dallas. My focus was on global concerns."
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