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Special Event

Bush Spokesman Ari Fleischer Holds Transition Team News Briefing

Aired January 3, 2001 - 1:11 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: Let's see if the question comes up in the transition office. The future White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, is speaking now to reporters. Let's listen to what he has to say.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: ... and studying them, seeing if they're consistent with President-elect Bush's positions, reviewing what options we may/may not have. There's a different procedure for regulations than there is for executive orders, for example. But the policy coordination groups are the ones who are focusing in on these matters.

QUESTION: And are you making decisions so that when, as soon as you take office, or as soon as these Cabinet officials are in place, that they can make some decision or do something immediately?

FLEISCHER: Perhaps. It really varies from executive order to executive order, to regulation to regulation, and the determinate will be the substance of each regulation or executive order.

FLEISCHER: Based on the substance of it, that determines whether we have something to say, say quickly, study it, furthermore.

Also, I would remind you that the Office of Management and Budget has a singular responsibility for all regulations. So they are integrally involved with all of that.

QUESTION: Ari, Mr. Gephardt said he might be willing to accept a larger tax cut than they've been talking about (OFF-MIKE) encouraging? And he also spoke about the possible recession looming; does that bolster your argument about economic trouble?

FLEISCHER: I thought that that was a heartening, a welcoming statement -- we welcomed what Mr. Gephardt said. I think it's further evidence that we will be able to work productively in this Congress.

From the president-elect's point of view, the closeness of the election is a signal to the nation and to people in Washington that we really do need to work together on the people's behalf; that we need to put principle before politics, and ideas before ambition. And if we do so, we're going to be able to enact an awful lot of legislation into law. And so, Mr. Gephardt's statements were welcome.

QUESTION: On that subject of inclusion, President-elect Bush has spoken a lot about that, but I've noticed that in meetings, in these transition advisory groups, to a large extent, these are people whose views coincide with the president-elect's. I'm not saying that across the board, but I've been studying some of those names and some of the positions that they hold on things like education, and they tend to be more conservative-leaning groups whose views coincide with the president-elect's. And in other meetings, where you had people down to Austin, Senator Kennedy was excluded from one of those meetings, and he is a leading voice for education and for health care reform on the Hill.

How do those things square with the president-elect's inclusion message?

FLEISCHER: Well, that's part and parcel of the governing process. President-elect Bush views his job as a leader to build support for his agenda; the agenda which he ran on during the course of the campaign. And so, as we proceed, he is going to reach out and build support for that agenda; that way he can get it through the Congress.

Now, at the same time -- this is why I say it's part and parcel of governing -- as he does so, he will be keenly aware there are some who don't share his agenda. However, those people are going to want to work with him in many cases. In other cases, they may not, and that is their prerogative.

But wherever he sees opportunities, wherever he sees openings, just as he did as governor of Texas, he's going to try to find a way to maximize those openings and those opportunities.

QUESTION: Will they be invited to the table? FLEISCHER: There are going to be ample sessions, and forums, and meetings, and phone calls. It's going to be an all-inclusive process. But I think that he deserves the right to meet with different people on different days. And that's what he'll do.

And if you look in the advisory panels, I don't dispute your quantification of it, but there certainly are people on those panels who do not share his point of view, who are Democrats, who opposed him in the election. Floyd Flake, Sam Gibbons, a couple of former congressman -- "Kika" De La Garza. There are former Democrat congressmen who are on there. I know they didn't vote for him. It's a private vote. I know they didn't support him.

WATERS: That's Ari Fleischer, President-elect Bush's spokesman, future White House spokesman. We had trouble hearing some of the questions, but there was one about Richard Gephardt, what he had to say today. I can run that down for you. He said, "I think we need a tax cut. It may be that it has to get bigger because a recession is looming and we've got economic worries out there." You heard Ari Fleischer say, we welcome that comment by Gephardt, the House minority leader. The Democrats and the Republicans, as you know, haggling over the size of any potential tax cut in the incoming Bush administration.

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