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Tony Clark monitors the Bush camp

Tony Clark
Tony Clark  

CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark is in Austin, Texas, reporting on the Bush campaign.

Q: Has the Bush camp had any reaction to Gore's appearance on '60 Minutes'?

CLARK: At this point, no. The governor has stayed out at his ranch. In fact, he's been at his ranch since the middle of last week, with the exception of coming in for a Christmas party last Friday. They have been very low-key about everything.

The only reaction we have been getting lately is almost like a mantra, that they believe Governor Bush will be the next president of the United States, and that there have been counts and recounts proving that's the case. They feel very confident that when all is said and done, Bush is going to be the next president. The governor himself has stayed very low-key, and instead has been sending out his surrogates to speak for him.

The whole Bush image that's been crafted here has been to be above the fray and not comment on each thing as it takes place.

Q: How closely is the Texas governor monitoring the court case in Leon County, Florida?

CLARK: He's not following it as closely as you might think. He's in contact with his attorneys, but out at his ranch they don't have cable TV. So, he's not watching each and every movement as we were able to watch with the cameras in the courtroom. But he does talk with attorneys pretty much every day or his point man in Florida, James Baker.

It was the governor who said let's go to the U.S. Supreme Court; he signed off on that. And it's the governor who signs off on the moves to the different courts. So, he does stay up to date on everything and is involved and is briefed on everything, but not to the extent that you might think.

Q: When might we see Bush again?

CLARK: We expect him to come back to Austin, perhaps, some time this afternoon. He left here in the middle of last week and has come back only once since then. He met with Colin Powell last Thursday and the Republican leadership Saturday at his ranch.

Q: What are Bush's plans for the week?

CLARK: He pretty much has an open schedule. For instance, today there is no public appearance that is planned. Bu when he's in Austin, what we usually see is that he will go to his office at the Capitol. ... We see him come and go from there. He also goes and exercises at the University of Texas.

One of the reasons he goes to the ranch is to get away from all the attention here. There are camera crews that encircle the governor's mansion. On weekends, especially when there are demonstrations outside the mansion, it's hard to hear. I mean there is usually so much noise from all the shouting and calls for Gore to resign that it gets distracting inside the mansion. So, he goes to the ranch. The ranch is about 90 minutes away from here. There are road signs at the ranch that tell motorists not to stop, not to park, not to wait around, just keep moving.

It's kind of like ... a media-free zone. It gives him a chance to relax and reflect and plan.


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Monday, December 4, 2000

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