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Janet Reno Preparing to Run For Governor in the State of Florida

Aired September 3, 2001 - 11:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: We've got actually a developing story out of Washington we want to bring you news on.

CNN's Judy Woodruff joins us with more on this.

Judy, what's happening?

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Colleen.

Actually, I'm in Washington, but the story is developing in the state of Florida. And that is that former United States Attorney General Janet Reno, whom we know was the attorney general under President Clinton for eight years, is -- will announce tomorrow that she is creating -- designating a campaign treasurer and will announce that she's going to begin to raise money and create an organization to enable her to run for governor of the state of Florida, which, if she were able to win the Democratic primary, would put her as a challenger to the incumbent governor, Jeb Bush.

So we've got a real political -- an interesting political story developing in the state of Florida.

MCEDWARDS: Well, Judy, tell us more about the landscape there. If were to run against Jeb Bush, what would the race look like?

WOODRUFF: Well, it's -- we don't want to get too far ahead of where we are now because there are definitely going to be other Democrats in the race. Former Congressman Peterson, who -- Pete Peterson, who served as a congressman and later -- was originally a prisoner of war in Vietnam and well-known for that reason, then went on to become ambassador to Vietnam, recently returned from that position, he's is seriously looking at running.

There's a state senator in the race. There's the Florida House minority leader, Lois Frankel.

But the person with the name recognition would have to be Janet Reno by virtue of her being attorney general, by virtue of the controversies that took place while she was at the Justice Department, not the least of which was Elian Gonzalez and the very visible role she took in returning Elian to his father in Cuba after that raid that everyone remembers on the home of his Miami relatives.

MCEDWARDS: That's right.

And given what you know about the time she spent in her home state since that -- I know that she's been out in a car sort of touring around, you know, laying the groundwork a little bit, taking the temperature, what kind of response have people given to her?

WOODRUFF: Well, it's been a largely positive response. She has gone around -- she surprised people, I think, with, as you say, by the fact that she's gone around the state, she's driven herself in some instances, and she's visited with different groups of people. Even the Republicans have said that they were surprised that she was taking this exploration of her candidacy so seriously.

But she still, you have to say with all that and with all that and with all the positive feelings that she has generated among many Democrats, there are no doubt Republicans in the state of Florida who remember the Elian Gonzalez story, remember the role of the Justice Department and her role as the head of the Justice Department in the raid, the assault on Branch Davidian compound back in 19 -- near Waco in 1993.

So we're looking at a polarizing candidate if she were to be the Democratic nominee, but someone who I think would engender a lot of excitement.

MCEDWARDS: Judy Woodruff, thanks very much for this.

Judy Woodruff bringing us that story from Washington, former Attorney General Janet Reno saying that she will begin to raise the money, will get the infrastructure set up that would enabling her to run for governor of Florida.

As Judy mentioned, some steps before that actually happen. She'd actually have to win the nomination, there are other Democrats in the race, but if she were she would be challenging the current governor, Jeb Bush, in that state.

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