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Bush Team Welcomes Hearings

Aired January 16, 2001 - 3:09 p.m. ET

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

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Kelly Wallace joins us now. She is in Austin, Texas -- has been tracking the Bush transition team and President-elect Bush himself.

Kelly, I would like you to address the issue of this intensity and what's at stake, not just this nomination, but much more broadly, as sort of a test case, for the incoming president?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely, Frank. This will certainly be a test of Mr. Bush's political capital, and the timing of these hearings, three days of what could be very divisive hearings coming just before Saturday, when the president-elect will give his first speech as President of the United States, a speech where he will be talking about unity and bringing the country together; and so the timing here if this bitterness and divisiveness has any impact on the president-elect's ability to bring the country together.

That is one factor, and also of course, if this nomination is not confirmed, that will be enormously disastrous for the president-elect as he assumes the presidency, but of course, all indications are that 50 Republicans will support the nomination, also possibly some Democrats. So the Bush team is confident. It's well aware, there will be tough questions, but it believes in the end, he will be confirmed, and interestingly, Frank, the Bush team is saying that it welcomes these hearings, saying it's a opportunity for the facts about the former Missouri Senator's record to be brought to light, saying there's a lot misinformation out there, according to Bush aides, saying this is an opportunity for the public to hear from Mr. Ashcroft himself and to learn about his views as opposed to hearing about his record, through special interest groups or his opponents -- Frank

SESNO: White House correspondent Kelly Wallace in Austin, Texas.

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