Vice President Dick Cheney says the accidental shooting of a hunting partner Saturday was one of the worst days of his life. The 78-year-old lawyer shot by Cheney is now in stable condition at a Texas hospital.
In an exclusive interview with FOX television, Cheney says he is the one who pulled the trigger and he alone is responsible for accidentally shooting his friend, Harry Whittington.
Whittington was hit in the face, neck, and chest with birdshot from Cheney's 28-guage shotgun Saturday. One of those pellets close to his heart caused an irregular heart beat Tuesday, sending Whittington back to intensive care.
Hospital administrators Wednesday say he remains in intensive care, not because of health risks, but to better protect his privacy.
Emergency room chief David Blanchard says he believes Whittington will fully recover as the 78-year-old has shown no signs of infection from the birdshot that remains in his body.
"Age always plays a factor when you deal with any injury or disease process as part of the problem, the constellation of things that we consider, but he is doing well at this point and has exhibited no complications further," he said.
Whittington was shot while hunting quail on a private Texas ranch late Saturday afternoon. That news did not become public until Sunday when the owner of the ranch telephoned a local newspaper reporter.
The White House says the delay resulted from concern about Whittington's condition and was not meant to cover-up the accident. Nonetheless, White House officials have faced aggressive questioning over why administration officials deferred to the vice president about how best to handle the situation.
In his interview with FOX, Cheney defended the way that information was released, saying it was appropriate for the ranch owner to make the announcement because she was an eyewitness to the accident and is an experienced hunter herself.
Cheney said he still thinks that was the right way to release the information as he was not traveling with press aides on the private weekend hunting trip.
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says reporters are free to keep focusing on the shooting but the president is moving on to issues that he says Americans are more concerned about including the economy and health care.
Opposition Democrats say the delay in releasing the information shows a pattern of secrecy in the Bush administration.