Tags: Bush | Steps | Transition; | Does | Gore

Bush Steps Up Transition; So Does Gore

Wednesday, 29 November 2000 12:00 AM

Democrat Al Gore made transition plans also.

"We've now acquired office space in McLean, Va., and it will be open this afternoon," said Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, who is overseeing Bush's nascent transition team. "That will become the site for the transition operation that we announced two days ago."

Cheney said some of Bush's top aides would move into the office later this week.

Newly appointed transition team counsel Michael Toner and Capitol Hill liaison David Gribbin are expected to arrive at the McLean offices over the weekend. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said he will also join the McLean team in the coming days.

With Al Gore refusing to concede, the Bush campaign was denied federal resources for transition costs and forced to resort to private donations to begin financing administrative work. Following federal law, the Bush transition fund is soliciting maximum $5,000 donations from individuals to bankroll the McLean work space.

"This is obviously a first step," Fleischer said. "It is imperative that we are ready and able to govern."

In Austin, Bush and his chief of staff designate, Andrew Card, have been shaping a roster of possible White House staffers and Cabinet officials for a Bush administration in daily meetings.

"We've spent a lot of time going over names, looking at resumes, doing some checks, if you will," Card said during an interview with the "Today" show on NBC. "We've focused on the White House staff.

"We're talking about potential Cabinet members, Republicans and Democrats, people from all across the country. But these decisions will be made by Gov. Bush after consultation with Secretary Cheney, and I expect some announcements to come over the course of the next few weeks."

In Washington, Cheney addressed criticism that Bush was stacking his would-be administration with throwbacks from previous GOP White Houses under former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, the governor's father.

"The fact of the matter is, when you put together an administration, one of the things you look for are people with experience, and we've had a number of Republican administrations over the 30-some years that I've been involved in national politics," said Cheney, who served as secretary of defense in the last Republican administration.

"We're looking for experienced people, people who can bring a lot to the team that Gov. Bush wants to assemble."

Bush and his closest aides have stressed the new president's intent to include Democrats in top posts of the administration in an effort to diffuse the partisan acrimony surrounding the contested elections. But two leading Democrat figures mentioned for possible roles in a Bush White House on Wednesday ruled out serving under the governor.

Former Democrat Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia removed himself Wednesday from consideration for a Cabinet post for Bush or Gore after his name circulated in media reports and political circles as a possible pick for Bush's secretary of defense.

"While I am honored to have my name mentioned for a Cabinet position, I am not interested in going back into government at this juncture in my life," Nunn said in the statement.

North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt, a Democrat rumored to be a Bush's choice for secretary of education, closed the door to any overtures from the governor as well.

"The governor has not been contacted by the Bush campaign and is not interested in going to work in Washington, D.C., in 2001," said Hunt's spokesman, Tad Boggs.

Fleischer said the two Democrat rebuffs were not a sign that Bush would have difficulty finding Democrats willing to serve in his administration given the bitter partisanship of the election standoff.

"The governor is going to extend bipartisanship and believes the bipartisanship will be reciprocated," Fleischer said. "I don't think that's going to be an issue at all."

Bush and Cheney planned to meet Thursday to discuss other staff and Cabinet appointments at the governor's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where retired Gen. Colin Powell, Bush's apparent pick for secretary of state, will join them.

Gore worked on his own provisional transition planning.

At the White House, Gore met with Roy Neel, director of the Gore transition team; running mate Joe Lieberman; William Daley, his campaign manager; and other administration officials tapped to be part of his stalled transition efforts.

Gore also paid a brief visit to President Clinton in the Oval Office. Gore and Clinton spoke only briefly, aides said, and didn't address anything substantive.

Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta held the first official meeting of the White House transition council, a team of ranking officials from federal agencies involved in the transition process.

White House officials said the council discussed efforts to prepare materials to hand over to the next administration and tried to map out the next steps, which will initially involve routine work of clearing out offices for the incoming administration. But the uncertainty is keeping much of the official changeover on hold as Gore continues to contest Bush's victory.

"I would love to hear a voice from the sky," said Beth Newburger, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, which has consulted with both campaigns but refused to acknowledge a winner in light of lawsuits in Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear a Florida election case on appeal Friday.

Newburger said the GSA chief, David J. Barram, would wait until a winner is apparent to the entire electorate before exercising his discretion to release federal transitions funds, which have become, in effect, the metaphoric keys to the White House.

Federal law calls for Barram to hand over transition funds to the "apparent" winner in the presidential election, but offers no guidelines for the determination. Newburger said Barram himself was uncertain as to exactly what would make a winner apparent at this point short of an unlikely concession by either Gore or Bush.

She said Barram would unlock federal funds when a winner emerged on whatever terms were accepted nationwide.

"When the country knows, that's when we'll know," Newburger said.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Democrat Al Gore made transition plans also. We've now acquired office space in McLean, Va., and it will be open this afternoon, said Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, who is overseeing Bush's nascent transition team. That will become the site for the transition...
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Wednesday, 29 November 2000 12:00 AM
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