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Tony Clark: Bush camp exuding confidence

Tony Clark
Tony Clark  

CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark is monitoring the campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Austin, Texas.

Q: What is the Bush camp doing to prepare for Thursday's pivotal Florida Supreme Court hearing, when the state high court justices hear arguments on whether the manual recount of disputed ballots should go forward?

CLARK: The governor talked to James Baker, his point man in Florida, on Wednesday morning to get a sense of the status of the legal cases. The governor is leaving the legal maneuvers and details of that to Baker and the attorneys.

George W. Bush is pretty much a macro-manager. He oversees the big picture and then delegates to others the details. That is pretty much what he is doing with the various cases going on in Florida.

He did say Wednesday that he does believe the cases are moving along and that it seems like all the court suits are moving toward finality, and that he hopes to get this over with soon.

The governor Wednesday was more jovial and upbeat than I have seen him in awhile. He talked to reporters for a short time during a meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the woman who is expected to become his national security adviser. They met Wednesday morning for an intelligence briefing, and then they talked about foreign policy.

The governor said one of the things they were trying to work on, and that he has spoken to Colin Powell about, is bipartisan foreign policy -- a policy to help other countries and try to promote peace, but also maintain respect for the United States.

Bipartisan has become a big and often-used word for the campaign.

In regard to the court cases, there are a couple other things. The campaign (officials think) they are on solid ground, both in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Florida circuit courts and the Florida Supreme Court.

They are very hopeful, but they are also very wary. They have gone through so many ups and downs in the courts that they are not taking anything for granted. They are just eager to get it over with, and to get on with creating an administration.

On one other front, Bush talked about creating a new administration. He said what he has said before, that there will be no formal announcement of Cabinet members until the legal fights are over with. But he said hes got a really good idea of who he wants on his White House staff and good ideas for Cabinet members. He said that with Condoleezza Rice sitting right next to him, and he said Condi Rice is on the list of people he would like to have working in a Bush administration.

Q: Were seeing more and more of Bush in the last few days. Is this part of a new effort to get the governor in front of the American people?

CLARK: It may well be that, but I also think its a sign of the growing confidence of the campaign.

You know, a few days after the election, while Florida was still very much in doubt, Bush had a meeting at the mansion with Condoleezza Rice and others, and he and the campaign caught a lot of flak over it, because the feeling was that it was very presumptuous -- it looked like he was having an Oval Office meeting with his advisers while the Florida election was still in doubt.

Wednesday, he held a similar meeting with Condoleezza Rice, and there wasn't a peep (of criticism) about it.

That shows two things: I think it shows both the confidence the campaign and the governor have on the outcome of this race, and the public acceptance of the election. There's a growing percentage of the public that believes he will be the next president.


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Wednesday, December 6, 2000

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