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Tony Clark says the Bush camp is gearing up in Austin

Tony Clark
Tony Clark  

CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark has been following developments in the campaign of Gov. George Bush in Austin, Texas.

Q: Now that Bush has declared himself a winner, what is the feeling like around the campaign.

CLARK: The mood is very upbeat. Andy Card, who has been designated Bush's chief of staff, said this morning he planned to talk a couple of times to Dick Cheney, who will head up the transition. And they may set up their own transition office, since the General Services Administration is not ready to turn over workspace in Washington.

Q: Is that a political issue?

CLARK: Well, a winner has not yet been declared and since the issue is still in the courts, the GSA doesn't feel the election's been decided. Bush and his supporters may feel it has, but the courts and the GSA don't feel it has been.

Q: Do you get the feeling that they believe Bush really has won it?

CLARK: What they're trying to do is present the image that he has won it by having him work on the transition. They are also promoting an ABC/Washington Post poll that says that six out of 10 Americans believe that Vice President Gore should bring his challenges to an end.

The attempt appears to be to convince the public by action and by polls that this is over with, and this would pressure the Gore campaign to call it quits.

But the campaign has to walk a fine line. Right after the election, there were photo ops of transition talk in the governor's mansion here and the Bush campaign caught a lot of heat for that for being presumptuous. So that came to an end.

Now that the Florida vote has been certified, it gives the campaign some basis to move ahead with the transition. But they still have to be careful of being presumptuous, especially since they also took a case to the Supreme Court.

Q: Are they calling Bush Mr. President yet?

CLARK: No. In fact, he was asked by reporters what they should call him, and he ignored the question. His communications director, Karen Hughes, indicated that for now he wants to be called governor, but he made it clear last night that he feels he won in Florida and is the president-elect.

Q: Any other developments in Austin?

CLARK: I think what's going to be key is to watch over the next couple of days to see if people are named to key cabinet posts. It's one thing to name a chief of staff and have your running mate oversee the transition. It's a much stronger step actually to name people to cabinet positions when the election is still in question.

Q: Would the candidates for Cabinet positions be willing to be identified while the outcome of the election is still up in the air?

CLARK: Some would be. Condoleezza Rice [a member of the national security team under President George W. Bush and an adviser to Gov. Bush] is expected to be national security adviser. And Larry Lindsey is expected to also have a Cabinet post, possibly as secretary of the Treasury. [Lawrence B. Lindsey has been a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.]

Q: How is the Bush camp responding to the media?

CLARK: Depends on the question and the time of day. When things go good, they're easy to get. When things are more difficult, sometimes they're harder to get.

Q: So things aren't warm and fuzzy in the Bush camp yet?

CLARK: No. Everybody realizes that though the votes been certified, it's not over yet.


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Monday, November 27, 2000

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