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Transition of Power: Bush Names Four More Cabinet NomineesAired December 29, 2000 - 2:11 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: To Washington now and the task of building the new Bush administration. President-elect Bush has said he hopes to have all his Cabinet members nominated by the end of next week, but don't hold him to it, he says. Today, he filled several more positions, though, bringing to 11 the number of jobs that have been filled.
For more on who's in, here's our senior White House correspondent John King.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four more down, three to go as the president-elect fills the Cabinet: Houston school superintendent Rod Paige for the education secretary, a proponent of charter schools and vouchers credited with a turnaround in the nation's seventh largest school district.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I wanted an educator who had proven the urban schools can be excellent schools, and Rod Paige is the right person.
KING: It was a choice made with the coming congressional debate in mind. Many Democrats say using tax dollars for school vouchers would destroy inner-city public education.
WILLIAM BENNETT, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: He will throw it right back in their faces. He knows more about it than they do. He's spent more time dealing with the problem, and he's actually solved the problem rather than, you know, pontificating from Capitol Hill.
KING: Fourteen-year Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson for health and human services secretary.
BUSH: Real welfare reform began in Wisconsin and has been duplicated in other states. He's a leader and an innovator.
KING: At HHS, Thompson will be at the center of debates over prescription drug coverage for the elderly and other health care issues, and under immediate pressure from fellow antiabortion conservatives to reverse Clinton administration rules allowing fetal tissue research.
GOV. TOMMY THOMPSON (R-WI), HHS SECY. NOMINEE: And my views on these issues I will be more than happy to discuss when the Senate has my confirmation hearing.
KING: Former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton for interior secretary, angering many environmental groups. Norton was a deputy to Reagan Interior Secretary James Watt, and back then, like the president-elect now, advocated oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
GALE NORTON, INTERIOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: The belief is that there are huge amounts of oil available in that area.
KING: Like New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, the choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Norton supports abortion rights, but will lead an agency with no direct role in social policy.
Anthony Principi is a Vietnam combat veteran and the choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. The California attorney was No. 2 at the VA when Mr. Bush's father was president. His top priority now: reforming the veterans health care system.
KING: Three more vacancy in the Bush Cabinet: the Departments of Transportation, Labor and Energy. The president-elect says he'll turn his attention to those soon, hopes to fill them by the end of next week. But first, a little relaxation: the New Year's Day holiday at his ranch in Texas -- Lou.
WATERS: Any trouble there, John, in the confirmation process?
KING: Don't think you'll see any of these people defeated in the confirmation process, but look for Democrats to have tough questions of Mr. Paige about education policy. One of the reasons he was chosen, that Mr. Bush believes Democrats will have a hard time questioning an African-American school superintendent whose district is 90 percent minority about vouchers. And that's a controversial program, but he, Mr. Paige, will make the case it has succeeded in his district.
Also, environmental groups already protesting Ms. Norton for interior secretary. Again, though, she has broad support in the Senate. She's worked on a bipartisan basis in the West. Her choice very much a reflection this is a Western administration: a Texan as president, a man from Wyoming as the vice president, a woman from Colorado now who will oversee land management policy. Look for a fight there, but nobody in Washington, no Democrats, think they will beat any of these people or that they'll even try.
WATERS: All right, John King in Washington.
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