Tony Clark: Aides, journalists work on transition to Bush's new title
CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark is reporting from Austin, Texas, on the transition process for President-elect George W. Bush.
Q: Are people having difficulty in the transition of saying 'President-elect Bush,' rather than 'Governor Bush'?
CLARK: Ari Fleischer, who will probably be named press spokesman for the Bush administration, caught himself on CNN referring to Mr. Bush as governor, then stopping and correcting himself and saying President-elect Bush.
So, it's something we are all having to get used to here.
Q: Is Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) expected to be named to a Cabinet post?
CLARK: President-elect Bush is a fan of John Breaux. During the campaign, Bush has often talked about Breaux's proposals for Medicare and Social Security. And during the five-week-long battle over the presidential ballots, the governor called Sen. Breaux, which was one of two calls he placed to Democrats.
On Friday, Sen. Breaux came for lunch at the mansion here in Austin to talk about a Bush administration.
Sen. Breaux himself has been touted as a possible Secretary of Energy or other cabinet position.
It is unlikely he would take a Cabinet position, because of the 50-50 split in the Senate.
If Sen. Breaux were to leave the Senate to join the Bush administration, his replacement would be appointed by Republican Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, who would most likely appoint a Republican. That would shift the balance of power.
Q: So, do you think it's a strategic move by Bush to try to shift the Senate's balance of power?
CLARK: I don't think so. It's more of an attempt by the president-elect to try to find people that he agrees with. He's promised to have a bipartisan administration.
I think that's more the reason why Sen. Breaux will likely not take any position. He will instead be someone on the Democrat side the president can consult with on different issues.
Q: Do we expect any holdup or backlog of the nomination or confirmation process for different Cabinet secretaries?
CLARK: The confirmation hearings wouldn't begin anyway until January. The backlog gets to be the FBI check.
Vice President-elect Dick Cheney said Thursday that they don't believe they will be able to have all of their nominees lined up for major positions by Christmas, which they had originally hoped for.
They're running behind, but they also did a lot of work prior to the election being finalized.
We may hear as early as Saturday about some of the key White House staff members being named.
Q: Has President-elect Bush indicated what his first priorities will be in office?
CLARK: He has said that education has always been the first priority during the campaign, and education reform will be his first priority in office.
In fact, he spoke of it Wednesday night during his speech at the Texas State Capitol about leaving no child behind.