Tony Clark on encouraged, energized Bush campaign
CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark is reporting from Austin, Texas, on the presidential campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Q: What are we hearing from the Bush campaign?
CLARK:The words we hear from the Bush campaign at this point are encouraged and energized after Monday's rulings -- that they see an end in sight to this lengthy ballot battle. You could sense the governor's upbeat mood when he went to the Texas Capitol Tuesday morning. Oftentimes, he goes straight from his car into the Capitol and has very few comments.
But Tuesday morning, he stopped and talked at length to reporters there, and said he was very encouraged by the decisions of the court yesterday. He said he understands the position the vice president is in, in terms of being asked to concede in a very close election. He said he knows it's a difficult situation and that he's not going to call on the vice president to concede.
Bush is also eager for this ballot battle to be over with. He said it's important to move ahead with the transition and show the American people that a Bush administration is ready to go ahead on Day One.
So, you get the sense here that everyone is very optimistic about the chances of a Bush administration, and that this contest may soon be over.
Q: What efforts are being made on the transition front? Are they starting to reach out to Democrats?
CLARK: At this point, they are restrained in reaching out to Democrats. Dick Cheney, who is on Capitol Hill with Republican leaders said he and the governor understand that the Democrats are in a difficult position right now: Democrats don't want to appear disloyal to the vice president who has carried their banner in the presidential election.
So, the Bush administration has only reached out, or even contacted, a couple of Democrats. The governor talked to Senator John Breaux (D-Louisiana) over the weekend about some legislative programs, and the governor just said (they're) interested in working together. But there were no offers of Cabinet positions or anything like that.
There's really not going to be any reaching out to Democrats until this legal battle is over and until the vice president concedes, if that's in fact what happens. Until then, the Bush campaign is going to work with Republican leaders and talk to them about legislative programs.
Q: What are the first legislative priorities of this possible new Bush administration?
CLARK: The governor has stressed that education is going to be his first topic. He has said that is the most important issue he ran on when ran for governor in Texas and for president of the United States. That's going to be the first thing he tackles.
Cheney said their legislative program, the Bush-Cheney legislative program, isn't going to change from what it was during the campaign. He says this is what got them where they are today and there's no reason to change it. That's a program of education changes, tax cuts, additional funding for the military, health care and helping the elderly pay for prescription drugs.