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Tony Clark: Bush prays, aides plan as transition to Washington commences

Tony Clark
Tony Clark  

CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark is in Austin, Texas, reporting on the transition for President-elect George W. Bush.

Q: What did George W. Bush do on his first morning as president-elect?

CLARK: He attended a prayer service with family, friends and staff members. It was presided over by three ministers at Tarrytown United Methodist Church, which is the church he attends when in Austin.

The Rev. James Mayfield, the minister of Tarrytown, hosted the Revs. Kirby John Caldwell and Mark Craig, the preacher of the church Bush attended when he lived in Dallas. The service lasted about 50 minutes.

The whole theme of the church service was one of reconciliation and the need to bring the nation together after this contentious presidential race.

It was funny: At the start of the service, Rev. Caldwell referred to the president-elect as "governor" and then stopped himself and said, "It's going to take me a little time to get used to saying 'president' or 'president-elect.' " A little later in his prayer, Rev. Caldwell said, "Lord, we thank you in advance for healing the nation."

There was a song written especially for this service. Among the lines of the song were: "Come let us reason together and heal the hurt inside, and reach out a hand to a brother and heal the great divide."

In his sermon, Rev. Craig looked at the president-elect and said, "You changed my life." The reverend also said that there was something Bush said in the third presidential debate that "made start to cry. It made me feel that I needed to be and was going to be a better man."

During the campaign, he told Bush, "You brought healing and hope to people."

With the president-elect and his wife, Laura, sitting on the front row, Craig told the story of Moses parting the Red Sea. When Moses parted the sea, he didn't go in advance of the Israelites and he didn't go behind the Israelites; Moses went with them. That was the kind of leadership Bush could and should provide to the nation, Craig said.

Q: What are Bush aides saying about the gracious speech given by Al Gore Wednesday night?

CLARK: They praised Gore. In fact, in the prayer service, Rev. Caldwell said, "We pray for Vice President Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman and their families."

There is a gratefulness on the part of the Bush campaign that the vice president did just about everything he could in his speech to pave the way toward an easier transition. They couldn't have asked for anything more.

Bush is going to go to Washington to meet with President Bill Clinton on Sunday and Vice President Gore on Tuesday. He's expected between now and Sunday to announce some of his White House staff picks, and perhaps name some Cabinet members when he gets to Washington.

Q: Are there likely to be more Democrats than initially expected on that list?

CLARK: We are told he wants to include Democrats. But we've only just now gotten to the point where the Bush camp feels comfortable in calling Democrats. ... They thought it was inappropriate to call Democrats while the vice president was still seeking the presidency.

Q: What's the mood on the streets of Austin Thursday? Are they celebrating?

CLARK: It's clear blue skies and very cold. It looks like a town that is very much getting on with its business, which kind of reflects the mood of the campaign.

There was going to be a big celebration in Austin on Election Night and then that got put off because of the contest in Florida. But now that there's finality, Bush aides are more like, "Let's move on with the business at hand."

I think the city is an accurate reflection of the way the Bush campaign is feeling.


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Thursday, December 14, 2000

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