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Whittington makes a statement

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060217/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cheney;_ylt=AtpiQhs3bAnxi1LrvcLS8Eys0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY- Cheers Greet Cheney at Appearance
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 17, 2006

      Cheers Greet Cheney at Appearance in Wyo.

      By LYNN BREZOSKY and BEN NEARY, Associated Press
      Writers 16 minutes ago

      CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The lawyer shot by Vice
      President Dick Cheney while quail hunting left a
      hospital Friday, stressing to reporters that it was an
      accident and giving Cheney his apologies.

      "My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice
      President Cheney and his family have had to deal
      with," Harry Whittington said in his first comments
      since being shot on a South Texas ranch six days

      The Austin attorney spoke less than 20 minutes before
      Cheney made his first public appearance since the
      shooting, receiving a rousing ovation from legislators
      in his home state of Wyoming.

      "It's a wonderful experience to be greeted by such
      warmth by the leaders of our great state. It's
      especially true when you've had a very long week,"
      Cheney told lawmakers in Cheyenne.

      "Thankfully, Harry Whittington is on the mend and
      doing very well."

      Whittington, 78, was hit in the face, neck and chest
      with birdshot Feb. 11. After a shotgun pellet traveled
      to his heart, he had suffered a mild heart attack
      Tuesday while being treated at Christus Spohn Hospital
      Corpus Christi-Memorial.

      Whittington's voice was a bit raspy, but strong, as he
      gave his brief statement. He had what appeared to be a
      line of cuts on his upper right eyelid and scrapes on
      his neck.

      "We all assume certain risks in what we do, in what
      activities we pursue," Whittington said. "Accidents do
      and will happen."

      He said the past weekend involved "a cloud of
      misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain,
      especially with those who are not familiar with the
      great sport of quail hunting."

      Dr. David Blanchard, the hospital's chief of emergency
      care, said the attorney was lucky to have survived the

      Whittington was being released Friday because of "his
      excellent health," Blanchard said, but he added that
      Whittington wasn't answering questions because "he is
      not 100 percent."

      Whittington did feel well enough to crack a joke.

      "I also thank all of you for understanding as best you
      can that medical attention is very important to
      someone my age — and you haven't failed to give my
      age," he said, drawing laughs from reporters.

      He also sent his love and respect to Cheney and his
      family. "We hope that he will continue to come to
      Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves,"
      Whittington said.

      Hospital spokeswoman Yvonne Wheeler wouldn't say
      exactly when Whittington left the hospital Friday or
      where he was going, only that he left in a car.

      Cheney took full blame for the shooting in a Wednesday
      appearance on Fox News, but his comments Friday were
      focused on reminiscing about Wyoming politicians,
      including his own time as the state's sole
      representative in the U.S. House.

      "For better than a decade, I proudly answered to the
      title, 'the gentleman from Wyoming,'" Cheney said.

      He also recalled the late Gov. Stan Hathaway, who gave
      Cheney his first job in politics — as an intern in the
      Wyoming Legislature in 1965, when Cheney was paid $300
      for 40 days work. Hathaway would go on to become
      governor of Wyoming, and established the mineral
      severance taxes that are responsible for the state's
      current $1.8 billion budget surplus.

      About a dozen people waited outside the Capitol in
      subzero temperatures to protest Cheney's appearance.
      "We're a little embarrassed that he's from our state,"
      said Tony Hayden, of Cheyenne.

      But Cheney also had his supporters, including Dan
      Yoksh, of Cheyenne, who watched Cheney's speech on
      television at the Cheyenne Regional Airport.

      "I think the media has blown things out of
      proportion," Yoksh said of the accident. "If you go
      duck hunting out here, you're bound to get shot

      Cheney received two ovations from the Legislature, one
      when he was introduced and a second when state Senate
      President Grant Larson announced a recent $2.7 million
      gift from Cheney and his wife Lynne to the University
      of Wyoming.

      In Texas, the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department
      closed its investigation in the shooting Thursday
      without filing any charges. The department's report
      supported the account of the vice president, who told
      an investigator he did not see his hunting partner
      while aiming for a bird.


      Neary reported from Cheyenne, Wyo. Associated Press
      Writers Nedra Pickler in Washington and Jennifer Byrd
      in Cheyenne contributed to this report.
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