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George W. Bush The Next President: First Cabinet Announcements Could Come Over Weekend; New Administration Looking for Efficient Managers

Aired December 15, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: If you're looking for a new job in the new year, you might want to contact Dick Cheney. They have 6,000 jobs to fill, they've received 21,000 resumes. Get yours in there quick. Then there's the process, of course, of FBI clearances and, for some, Senate confirmation. We are talking about some kind of transition that's going on.

And CNN's Kelly Wallace joins us now from Austin with the latest on all of this -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, there is a lot to do and so little time. Just about five weeks left until Inauguration Day. On tap today, President-elect Bush will meet with his first congressional Democrats since being named president- elect. He invited Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana to Austin for lunch, a meeting that should get under way in about a half hour.

And while Bush aides say this meeting is part of the incoming president's ongoing efforts to reach out to Democrats, they are not ruling out there could be discussion about a cabinet position.

Now, there -- Sen. Breaux's name has been floated as a possible energy secretary in a Bush administration. And while the Louisiana lawmaker has not ruled out serving in a Bush White House, he has pretty much indicated he would prefer to in the Senate were there is a 50-50 split and where his power could dramatically increase in the next Congress, which is sharply divided because of his leadership of centrist lawmakers in the Senate.

Now, there is another issue for Sen. Breaux if he were to leave the Senate and join the bush administration. His position would most likely be filled by a Republican, and that would give Republicans a slim majority in the Senate.

Now, as for the president-elect, he spent much of this day -- or all of this day, rather -- inside the governor's mansion meeting with senior advisers, including Andy Card, the man who would be his chief of staff. He also talked on the phone, participating in a conference call with Mr. Card and others, including his vice president-elect, Dick Cheney.

We talked to a Bush spokesperson just a short time ago, and we understand that announcements of cabinet appointments or White House staff are more like -- possibly could come as early as tomorrow, Saturday, from Mr. Bush himself, who will be at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Of course, we also know that, Sunday night, he will be heading to Washington. Monday he will be meeting with lawmakers of both parties. And then on Tuesday, he will meet with Vice President Gore and President Clinton at the White House.

Now, Natalie, because you asked yesterday, I wanted to let you know that Mr. Bush will be getting in some exercise on this day. After meeting with Sen. Breaux, he will head to the University of Texas to get in his normal workout. He has not really done that probably since the middle of the week.

Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: Got to keep that up. Can't let it slide because he's the president.

WALLACE: Absolutely.

ALLEN: Thank you. We should all be so fortunate to get those workouts in. Thanks, Kelly.

The transition office is up and running in Washington. For that, we go to CNN's Eileen O'Connor. She's got a smart Card to the office as well -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Dick Cheney's working the phones today, not necessarily the treadmill. He's upstairs, has been working 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. just about every day. And we're told that these offices are going to be open all weekend.

Basically, what he's been doing is not meeting with Democrats, he's meeting with Republicans. He had in here today the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson, and also the Michigan governor, a Republican, John Engler, a close political friend of President-elect Bush, a man who's given him a lot of advice over the campaign and over the years who shares many of his beliefs on policy. Said he was talking to him on policy, but also on personnel and the types of people that they should choose.

And John Engler said, interestingly, that it isn't just the political spectrum that they're looking at when they look at people, it's also how efficient they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: I think whether you're a conservative or moderate or liberal, if you're a good manager they're going to be looking for you. If you're a conservative, moderate or liberal and a lousy manager, probably don't need to apply. In other words, you've got to run these agencies and departments. And I think what they want are talented people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'CONNOR: But Republican strategists who are also working with the transition have stressed that they are also having to look at a much more moderate slate of people because they need people; not just efficient people who can hit the ground running in this short time period, but also people who can reach across the aisle and work with a divided Congress, which will be very important. They also have to keep those conservatives in their party happy.

And on that, John Engler said they will be going for tax cuts. He also said that one of the things the Bush team is looking at right now is that slowing-down economy that you were talking about at the beginning of the show. They are concerned about that, Oldsmobile being shut down, bad numbers coming out of Microsoft. And he says tax cuts, actually, they believe, would help stimulate growth and at least stimulate some spending -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, we'll wait and see if that all happens. Thanks, Eileen O'Connor.

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