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CNN Today

Bush Leaning Toward Anderson for Labor Secretary

Aired January 10, 2001 - 2:22 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: The president-elect has a few other Cabinet chores before him. First and foremost, he has to find a new labor secretary nominee, because Linda Chavez stepped aside last evening. He's also keeping one eye on the growing opposition to his choice for attorney general, as his education nominee gets grilled on Capitol Hill today. For all that, we turn to CNN's Major Garrett, who's been covering the Bush transition from the Texas governor's mansion to the White House -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Lou. We have some developments to report on that attempt by that Bush team to quickly fill that vacancy for the nominee of labor secretary. We can tell you that Eloise Anderson, who is a former director of the Department of Welfare in California and social services in Wisconsin has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Linda Chavez.

Now, it's important to point out that until the president-elect makes a decision, anything can happen. But there are three factors that suggest very strongly that Eloise Anderson is the leading candidate.

First and foremost, CNN has confirmed that Miss Anderson is on a flight right now from Sacramento, California to Washington, D.C., where upon she is to meet with Bush transition officials late this afternoon. Theoretically, to discuss possibly becoming the labor secretary nominee.

It's also worth pointing out that her name was communicated by Bush transition officials to the office of Senator Edward Kennedy who was the temporary chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, the very committee that would hold the hearings on her confirmation.

And also, late last night and all through the morning, she has been vetted by the Bush transition officials. Now there also other names out we should keep in mind.

Former Missouri Representative Jim Talent is under consideration. As is current Washington Representative Jennifer Dunn. Elaine Chao, Who is the former transportation secretary for the elder Bush. And Stephen Goldsmith, who is the former mayor of Indianapolis. All those names are under consideration, but as I said, several factors suggest that Eloise Anderson has moved to the top of that list.

On to the Chavez situation itself, Linda Chavez has changed her story this morning, a little bit from the story she told last night, taking far more responsibility for what she did to derail her own nomination. This is what she said about some of the mistakes she made in discussing her situation with an illegal immigrant with Bush transition officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: I made mistakes and I put the Bush transition team in a difficult position. I understand that. I regret it and I especially regret it because I deeply, deeply believe in this president. I think he is going to make a great president. I think he is going to have a great administration. I think he has a very tough time ahead of him. I think there are lots of people out there gunning for the nominees and would like to derail this administration. But he's a great man. I believe in him. I worked hard to get him elected. I will continue to support him. My mistakes were my own mistakes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: Also now, the Bush transition team and Linda Chavez finally, and obviously belatedly, are on the same page -- Lou

WATERS: Major, today, Ari Fleischer in the transition room was telling reporters how disappointed he was that opposition -- political campaign opposition is reaching liberal activist groups, in what he calls the serious process of confirmation. What is that all about?

GARRETT: The Bush team has really become concerned about the way public interest groups and liberal groups have mounted this opposition to the Attorney General-nominee John Ashcroft, who ran for reelection, if you recall, in November for a second term as a Missouri senator. He was defeated by Mel Carnahan, who died two weeks before the election, but it was clear to all Missouri voters, that if Mr. Carnahan had won, his wife, Jeanne, would occupy the seat. That's in fact what happened.

Ari Fleischer was complaining that those who work for the Carnahan campaign are now giving two opponents of John Ashcroft's elevation of attorney general information collected in that campaign. But the Bush team says, this is all part of the politicalization of the confirmation process. What they would like is a confirmation process that is strictly on the facts of John Ashcroft's record, his suitability to be attorney general, and his commitment to enforcing all civil right laws, which the Bush transition team said he has made abundantly clear he will do.

But it's very clear, there will be long and torturous process for John Ashcroft. And least three days of hearings next week, and public comment there after. They're not expecting a full confirmation vote on the Senate floor until early February -- Lou

WATERS: There will be some fireworks, and Major Garrett, reporting from Washington.

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