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Jeanne Meserve keeps up with the Bush team

Meserve

CNN Correspondent Jeanne Meserve is reporting from Austin, Texas, on the presidential campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Q: Does the Bush camp think they hit a home run before the Florida Supreme Court Thursday?

MESERVE: They're very cautious to say that there's no way to prejudge what the Florida Supreme Court is going to do. But they are keying in on the fact that the state Supreme Court honed in on the question of jurisdiction and the impact of federal law. They think that the Florida Supreme Court is doing this because it has read and read carefully the U.S. Supreme Court decision, which came down this week vacating an earlier decision by the Florida Supreme Court. The Bush camp is somewhat encouraged by that line of questioning.

The Bush camp has been making this argument: That the U.S. Supreme Court decision was a boon to their case and would have an impact on the Florida Supreme Court. I think that they feel the questioning Thursday supports that argument.

Another thing that they've mentioned to me is that they believe the Gore legal team just did not present a legal rationale for overturning Judge N. Sanders Sauls circuit court ruling.

Q: What was the governor doing during the hearing? Did he watch the Florida Supreme Court hearing on TV?

MESERVE: He told us he did not watch the Florida Supreme Court proceedings, but he did have a telephone conversation with former secretary of state James Baker, his point man in Florida. However, he would not tell us the content of that conversation and neither would his staff.

Bush spent most of the morning at the statehouse, working on state business. Among other things, he had his photograph taken with student interns. We also know that he continued to work on transition matters. Bush has said he has not made any formal offers of Cabinet appointees. But I think he's trying to get all the dominoes in place, so that when the situation in Florida clarifies he will be able to move quickly.

Thus far, the only two people who seem to have a sure lock on jobs in a potential Bush administration are Colin Powell, who might be secretary of state, and Don Evans, a likely pick for commerce secretary.

Q: Does the camp seem a little more confident this week of Bush's chances?

MESERVE: I think their confidence has been pretty high since the Leon County Circuit Court ruling. I think they've projected confidence since Election Day by moving ahead with transition matters. But that court ruling really gave them a boost and gave them the feeling that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Their optimism, however, is very much tempered by what they've learned in the last month, which is that the situation can change quickly and change radically. So, they're not wearing their party hats or dancing in the streets by any stretch of the imagination.


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Thursday, December 7, 2000


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