Elizabeth Dole Jumps on Bush BandwagonAired January 4, 2000 - 5:25 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the White House, where something Al Gore, Bill Bradley, George W. Bush and John McCain all agree on: President Clinton renominated Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
CNN's Chris Black has more on the move that was widely expected and widely applauded.
CLINTON: For the past 12 years, Chairman Greenspan has guided the Federal Reserve with a rare combination of technical expertise, sophisticated analysis and old-fashioned common sense.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No surprise, President Clinton reappointed Alan Greenspan to his fourth four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a full six months before expiration of his current term. Why?
CLINTON: Clearly, wise leadership from the Fed has played a very large role in our strong economy.
BLACK: Heading into the election year, President Clinton sent a reassuring message to the financial markets, and let the American people know the same master of monetary policy will be in place during the term of the next president.
The Republican economist, a man of few words, had some uncharacteristic praise for the Democratic administration.
ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Your commitment to fiscal discipline, which as you know and indeed have indicated, has been instrumental in achieving what in a few weeks, as you pointed out, will be the longest economic expansion in the nation's history.
BLACK: And offered a clue as to why a 73-year-old man would prefer this job to retirement or the more lucrative business world.
GREENSPAN: It's like eating peanuts -- you keep doing it and keep doing it, and you never get tired, because the future is always ultimately unknowable.
BLACK: White House officials tell CNN Mr. Greenspan was the only candidate for the job. The only other name to surface was former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who had indicated he was not interested. Chief of Staff John Podesta called Mr. Greenspan on December 22 to ask him if wanted to stay. The president's advisers wanted his name to go to Capitol Hill early this year so he would be confirmed before his term expires in June. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott predicted no problems with Senate confirmation.
BLACK: White House officials said the president came to appreciate over time the role Mr. Greenspan played in the thriving economy, an opinion shared by Vice President Al Gore, who signed off on the reappointment early last fall -- Bernie.
SHAW: Chris, I want to ask you, not a sneaky question, but Clinton-Greenspan. Do these two need each other? Something has happened in their relationship, has there not, since Clinton first took office?
BLACK: Absolutely, Bernie. White House officials say that President Clinton was a little suspicious of the Republican chairman of the Fed at the beginning of his administration for a few years. But over time, both of these men have come to see that their success is linked and that their policies actually are compatible. And so this reappointment, there was really no debate in the administration over it. The president's top economic advisers all enthusiastically were in favor as was the vice president. And it was a no-brainer, they say.
SHAW: Interesting, Chris Black, because as you know in the year's gone by, there used to be very intense debate over the Fed.
Thanks very much.
More now on the politics behind that decision to keep Greenspan at the Fed. For that, we turn to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
What about it?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, you know President Clinton is famous for stealing Republican issues, like the balanced budget and welfare reform. Now he's going one step further: He's stealing the Republicans' Federal Reserve chairman. Has he no shame? Well, let's put that question aside, and ask, has he no rationale? That's easy. Of course he does.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Clinton knows that a Federal Reserve chairman can make or break presidential candidates. Arthur Burns helped make Richard Nixon in 1972, when the Fed allowed a huge expansion of the nation's economy. Paul Volcker helped break Jimmy Carter in 1980, when the Fed pushed interest rates up and choked off any prospect of an economic recovery.
The Democrats' worst nightmare is that the Fed will raise interest rates enough to slow down the economy and create fears of a recession. Tough luck, Gore. Bye-bye, Hillary. Which is why the president has been effusive in his praise of Greenspan.
CLINTON: This chairman's leadership has been good not just for the American economy and the mavens of finance on Wall Street, it has been good for ordinary Americans.
SCHNEIDER: Remember, Greenspan was first appointed by President Reagan, then reappointed by presidents Bush and Clinton. He's a real bipartisan figure.
Look at his popularity ratings. He's popular among both Democrats and Republicans, though Republicans seem to have stronger opinions of him, both favorable and unfavorable, which shows up in the campaign. Some Republicans denounce Greenspan, claiming he's trying to spoil a good economy.
STEVE FORBES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're trying to slow the economy down. It's bizarre.
SCHNEIDER: Others embrace him, as a way of saying Republicans won't do anything to spoil this good economy.
MCCAIN: If Mr. Greenspan should happen to die, God forbid, I would so like they did in the movie "Weekend At Bernie's." I'd prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him and keep him as long as we could.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats want to make Greenspan the symbol of their successful stewardship of the economy.
GORE: I have in the past given you my assessment of his performance by giving him a grade of A-plus, plus. I'll add another plus to that.
SCHNEIDER: All Democrats.
BRADLEY: I strongly support his reappointment of Alan Greenspan. I think that he has performed very well.
SCHNEIDER: But there's a risk for Clinton in reappointing Greenspan. It could promote the idea that the good economy really is bipartisan, a point Republicans are trying to make.
FORBES: It was the Republicans who stopped some of the destructive nonsense of the Clinton-Gore administration that enabled us to enjoy the prosperity we have today.
SCHNEIDER: Greenspan takes the partisan edge off the economic issue, and that could create a big problem for Democrats.
SCHNEIDER: Because voters may conclude that it doesn't matter whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, the economy will be OK either way. You know, Greenspan embodies a bipartisan consensus on the economy. So now what we have is two parties trying to say, hey, this is our bipartisan consensus.
SHAW: But you know, Bill, politicians, either Democrats or Republicans, they cannot touch this man. Why?
SCHNEIDER: Well, legally, of course, the Fed is independent, constitutionally independent, which drives politicians crazy. Because the institution most responsible for controlling the economy is beyond the reach of politicians. And Alan Greenspan, more than most Fed chairmen, has been impervious to any kind of political appeal. A lot of Republicans blame him for George Bush's defeat in 1992, and they say he's never been a partisan one way or the other.
SHAW: He is clearly his own man.
SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider.
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