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From: John King/CNN White House Correspondent
In: Washington, D.C.
Posted 7-16-97

Subject: Clinton tells Weld he'll fight for Mexico Ambassador nomination

President Bill Clinton informed Massachusetts Gov. William Weld Tuesday night that he would fight to have the moderate Republican confirmed as ambassador to Mexico.

White House officials gave mixed signals throughout the day, but Clinton personally intervened after getting a report on a news conference Weld held in Boston urging Clinton to fight for the nomination.

A senior White House official tells CNN that Clinton instructed White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles to call Weld and tell him "the president could not agree more that this is a fight worth fighting. The president will have this fight if he needs to."

The official said the background check on Weld is still under way but that, barring some surprise, Clinton would formally nominate Weld and send his name to Capitol Hill as soon as possible.

Weld's nomination is opposed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, and there was talk within the administration of offering Weld another ambassadorial post. But Weld held a news conference in Boston on Tuesday and said he wanted the Mexico City job, and urged Clinton to send his name to Capitol Hill for a confirmation hearing.

Weld's tactics angered several supporters who were working behind the scenes in hopes of getting Helms to drop his opposition. "Not exactly a diplomatic showing by a guy who wants to join the diplomatic corps," said a senior Massachusetts Democrat who has been trying to salvage the nomination.

But a second senior White House official involved in the process said the administration believed Weld was a solid choice and, in any event, that the only losers in a protracted fight over his nomination would be Republicans "who won't upset us if they want to have an internal holy war over this."

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