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CNN Today

Rick Perry Sworn in as New Texas Governor

Aired December 21, 2000 - 4:12 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at live at pictures from Texas, the Statehouse, as they swear in the new governor of the state of Texas. That will be Rick Perry. He's been the lieutenant governor -- taking over for George W. Bush, who, of course, is moving onto a new job in Washington, D.C.

A prayer:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... with wisdom and compassion, as he assumes the responsibilities of governor. In these times of challenges and opportunities, enable him to discern what you want. We pray that you bring out the best in him, as he strives to serve the people of this state. Protect him from weariness of mind and weariness of heart. Keep him refreshed in both body and spirit.

CHEN: The ceremony as Rick Perry becomes the next governor of the state of Texas, of course taking over for George W. Bush, who, as we said, is moving over onto his new job. Mr. Bush resigned today as governor of Texas.

CNN's Major Garrett is in Austin with the latest on the Bush transition -- Major. MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Joie.

You know, native Texans have a saying around here, that: Texas is like a whole other country. And most native Texans can never understand why anyone who has grown up here would ever leave. And in resigning this morning, president-elect Bush explained that the only thing that could take him from his beloved Texas was moving to the White House, an explanation that most Texans clearly accept.

The governor also said in his resignation statement that he was proud of the things he'd achieved as governor, and emphasized how many of those achievements were done in a bipartisan manner. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud of the good we have done together in Texas, and I'm looking forward to the good we will do together in America.

(APPLAUSE) BUSH: These past six years have been a time of steady progress in Texas, and no one person can claim credit. It has been a record of shared success, a true tribute to bipartisan efforts.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GARRETT: Shared success is clearly something the president-elect hopes he and Democrats and Republicans in Washington will achieve. Later today -- as we just showed -- Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry became the official governor of Texas, part of the ceremonial transition of power that is sort of a prelude to the transition of power that will be more formal and quite a bit more stately a month from now in Washington, D.C.

A couple of Cabinet appointments are due to be filled very soon. CNN has confirmed that Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin has accepted Mr. Bush's call to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. and New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman has accepted the call to lead the department -- rather, the agency -- the Environmental Protection Agency, not a Cabinet position, though it's quite possible that Mr. Bush, in an effort to prove his commitment to the environment, may, at some point in the future, elevate that to a formal Cabinet position itself -- Joie.

CHEN: Major, I want to ask about the governor who apparently is not going to take a seat in the Bush administration: Mark Racicot, a very popular outgoing governor in the state of Montana -- obviously, had been important to Bush team as they moved through the Florida process. But now he says he doesn't want to play a part?

GARRETT: He does not want to be the attorney general of the United States. That job was formally offered to him in a meeting yesterday here in Austin by the president-elect. Governor Racicot had warned the president-elect before he even came down here -- courtesy of a Gulf Stream jet the president-elect provided -- that he really wanted to spend time raising money -- that is to say earning money in the private sector.

He's been governor for nine years in Montana -- in public service, much longer than. He has five children, three of them still in college. I had a long interview with him on the phone earlier today. He said he knows that, in Washington, there are sorts of suspicions as to why he didn't take this position: Could he have been confirmable? Were conservatives upset that he might be attorney general? He said that had nothing to do with it.

All he wanted to do was spend some time earning some money in the private sector, so he and wife of 29 years could have some financial security. That was the reason. He informed the governor of that -- the president-elect, rather. And he also said that the president- elect invited him to come down to Austin because he thought, person- to-person, he could persuade him to change his mind, something the president-elect has been able to do quite a bit in his career.

Governor Racicot stands out somewhat uniquely as someone that was, ultimately, not persuadable by the president-elect -- Joie. CHEN: Well, Major, I guess the Texans would understand loyalty to a home state, as Montanans have as well.

GARRETT: Absolutely.

CHEN: Major Garrett for us in Austin, Texas.

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