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Transition of Power: Bush Meets with Power Players in WashingtonAired December 18, 2000 - 1:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now as you know, Bush isn't waiting to put together his administration, and today he's on a business trip.
CNN's Chris Black joins us now from Capitol Hill with more on that.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kyra, you're right, it was all business today. President-elect George W. Bush came to Capitol Hill for the first time since he was elected president to begin to develop the relationships with congressional leaders that he will need if he expects to get the Bush agenda through Congress. After meeting for 2 1/2 with leaders from both parties, he came out and said he knew there would be times when they would disagree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's going to be a lot of discussions, a lot of head knocking, a lot of, kind of, gentle arm twisting -- I'm sure they'll be twisting my arm; I might try to twist a few myself to reach what's right for America, and I believe I'm standing here because I campaigned on issues that people heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: Now, Democrats disagree with that analysis. They say that George W. Bush does not have a mandate, that this election was very much a tie and very much fought on Democratic issues. So they say that bipartisanship, in their view, means that Governor Bush should embrace some of the items from the Democratic agenda, particularly things that were popular in the last Congress, something like the minimum wage increase, HMO reform, campaign finance reform -- items that actually got through the House, but died in the dying days of the 106th Congress because of partisan squabbling.
Republicans say that their discussions with the governor mostly centered on ways to keep the economy moving. They talked about tax cuts and energy policy. Didn't get into too many specifics, but Governor Bush made it very clear that he is not giving up on his $1.3 trillion tax cut -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: Chris, there's also been a lot of talk about the legitimate nature of our new president. How does it look? Was that addressed today -- Democrats, Republicans: What did they say about that? Do they see Bush as a legitimate president?
BLACK: Well, Dick Gephardt was asked about that, had a hard time getting the word legitimate out of his mouth, but I think that what Democrats are telling me is that they do acknowledge that George Bush won this election, he is president -- but they do not believe that he has a mandate. They're not about to roll over. They say that Al Gore actually got more votes than he did, and so the things that they care about, the items they believe in -- they're going to stick with that and hope that he comes halfway to them.
PHILLIPS: Chris Black, thank you very much.
While Congress won't count today's electoral votes until next month, the incoming Bush administration is still going full-speed ahead with its transition preparations.
CNN's Eileen O'Connor joins us from Washington with more on that.
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kyra.
Well, actually, I'm in McLean, Virginia, which is just outside of Washington. This is still transition headquarters for the Bush-Cheney transition team.
Earlier, before those meetings on Capitol Hill -- transition going forward full-steam ahead -- President-elect Bush met with Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. They were talking about interest rates, the economy and tax cuts. President-elect Bush wouldn't say what exactly was said, of course, not tipping the chairman of the Federal Reserve's hand -- you know, there is a meeting tomorrow of the Federal Reserve, and people are looking to see if there might be a cut in rates, but President-elect Bush clearly believes that tax cuts could help stimulate the economy and prevent a recession. Alan Greenspan has called for the surplus to be used to reduce the national debt -- so very important meeting there.
And while President-elect Bush was up on Capitol Hill, his wife, Laura Bush, was over at the White House, being greeted by the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is Senator-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton -- and the two having a traditional tea in the White House. This is the traditional meeting that occurs between the former -- the first lady and the future first lady, basically, to go over a few things -- what is currently at issue at the White House.
Of course, Laura Bush can actually talk to her mother-in-law. She has that advantage, and her husband knows the house well from the times when his father was the president.
Also, later on this afternoon and right now currently, they're in meetings at the Madison Hotel. President-elect Bush, Vice President- Elect Dick Cheney, and other aides -- Andrew Card -- all meeting with potential Cabinet picks. Now, we're not told who's at these meetings, who else they're talking to, but there are some names floating about.
And, of course, tomorrow, those all-important meetings with President Clinton and Vice President Gore -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Eileen, two questions -- I'll get back to the meetings there in a moment -- but back to Laura Bush. Has she taken on a formal policy role yet? Has she talked about that?
O'CONNOR: No, but the aides have basically said that she's going to remain interested in the things she's been interested in as -- as the governor's wife in Texas, as the first lady of Texas: And that is education and reading. These have been two issues that she's spearheaded down in Texas -- and as you know, President-elect Bush has already said, on Capitol Hill, improving education is one of his priorities. So she will be involved in that.
Now as for policy role, doubtful -- it will probably be with the community groups and through that kind of thing -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: OK, Eileen, back to meetings that you mentioned: Any undercurrents?
O'CONNOR: Well, there are undercurrents. You know, it's interesting, with Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve: Of course, George W. Bush's father, during '92 campaign, had wished that Alan Greenspan had lowered rates then, and of course, the recovery that occurred too late for President Bush, Sr. And so there was a little bit of bad blood between them, and so obviously that's sort of an issue, an undercurrent going through that meeting.
And of course, you know, there was also some bitterness between the Clintons and the Bushes. It was seen, and many times you saw, on the campaign trail, it almost appeared as if George W. Bush was really running against Bill Clinton, talking about restoring honor and dignity to the White House, often along the campaign trail. So that'll be a very interesting meeting tomorrow -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Eileen O'Connor, from McLean, Virginia -- not Washington -- thank you.
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