BELOIT - Former Vice President Dick Cheney fielded questions on climate change, impeachment and international security at an event hosted by the local chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom on Thursday evening at Beloit College's Eaton Chapel.
Moderated by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the event allowed visitors to submit questions. Inquires ranged from Cheney's reaction to the biographical movie "Vice" to his thoughts on North Korea and Russia.
Although Cheney said it's important to give President Donald Trump credit for putting together negotiations with North Korea, he said it's critical senior officials understand who some of the "bad actors" in the world are. While Cheney said he supported Trump in 2016 and voted for him, he said he doesn't agree with him on everything, including some issues related to U.S. relationships with allies and international threats.
Cheney said he was concerned when Trump announced recently he was going to have U.S. Forces back off the border of Syria enabling Turkey to move into Kurdish territory which could undermine a relationship with the Kurds, important allies in fighting against ISIS and other radical groups.
Cheney called Russia a significant threat to the United States and its allies. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin's aspirations are worrisome and he, unlike Trump, will always view Putin as a KGB colonel.
Although Cheney said there was merit to tariffs with China, he said the United States is at a point where the President's use of them could be troublesome, especially when it comes to tariffs on agricultural products.
"I'm a free trader and I don't like tariffs," he said. "You can overdo it, and I think we are about there."
When asked if there should be government action taken on climate change, Cheney said it's increasingly obvious things are happening to the environment because of the nation's reliance on fossil fuels. Although he said a broad set of policies is needed to minimize environmental impact, he said there are those who would use the argument to shut down large portions of the U.S. economy.
When asked how the movie "Vice" will impact his legacy, Cheney chuckled and he doesn't go near Hollywood.
When it came to gun regulations, Cheney said he would be in favor of more background checks and the enforcement of existing laws.
When asked his views on LGBTQ rights, he said his daughter, Mary, is gay and married to a woman with a family, an important part of their lives.
"Freedom means freedom for everybody, and it's a very important principal and proposition to follow," Cheney said.
When it came to impeachment, Cheney said it's critical the issue gets resolved as everyone is spending their time on the issue, with little else getting done.
Those opposing Cheney's visit did not interrupt his visit.
As people lined up outside Eaton Chapel, protesters silently held banners that read, "End Imperialism," and "Try Cheney for Mass Murder."
One of the protesters who was handing out fliers said they were trying to keep the protest civil and low key.
One protester who wasn't silent was David Stocker of Rockford, who played his guitar and harmonica in the rain as he sang his original song, "Desperate Dick Cheney."
"I came all the way from Rockford in the rain to sing this song for Dick Cheney," he said.
However, as he sang, members of the Young Americans for Freedom sang "The Star Spangled Banner."
Beloit College's Chair of Students for an Inclusive Campus Gabe Gonzalez said his group had created a block party as a counter to the event, a collaboration with more than 20 clubs and organizations.
Beloit College students and alumni were also planning to use former Cheney's visit this evening to raise money for RAICES, a nonprofit offering legal help to immigrants and refugees.