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Jason Bellini: They're 'excited about that moment when they'll ... claim the prize'

story.jason.jpg
Jason Bellini  

January 19, 2001
Web posted at: 12:36 PM EST (1736 GMT)

Student News Archive

CNN NEWSROOM reporter Jason Bellini is in Washington covering the inauguration and transition of power from the Clinton to the Bush administrations. Bellini discusses the changes afoot with CNNfyi.com

CNNfyi: Are Bush staffers and supporters excited or weary of taking over the White House?

Jason Bellini: Everyone there is excited about that moment when they'll walk through that door and claim the prize.

A lot of them don't know what their role will be, but they couldn't be more excited. A lot of these people are coming to Washington for the very first time.

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In fact, I just interviewed a 21-year-old who is joining the administration. He's preparing himself for anything, but he has no idea what it will be like.

CNNfyi: Is there a lot of optimism?

Bellini: I think that the White House staff is very optimistic. They come in with a whole agenda they want to implement. And they know most presidents get a honeymoon period when they can get some meaningful things done.

Some of them, especially the newcomers, may not know what an ugly game politics can be. They come in wide-eyed and with a lot of optimism.

CNNfyi: Especially early in his tenure, the Clinton administration was thought of as young. Is this going to be a "young" or an "old" presidential administration?

Bellini: At the higher levels, certainly, a lot of the old guard -- from George W. Bush's father's staff -- is back in the White House. But all administrations are staffed at the lower levels by people who are willing to accept most any task, and many of those people are young.

One thing I'm curious about is what the young people are doing for the administration, personality wise. During the early days of the Clinton administration, they were treating the White House like a college campus. There was an air of informality. I sense there's going to be more formality in the George W. Bush White House.

CNNfyi: What's life like for an average White House staffer?

Bellini: The business of government isn't all glory. There are probably far more people that are doing the paper pushing than there are those who are conducting press conferences or making big policy decisions.

I have talked to a number of people who are now looking for houses they can afford to live in with their friends. The housing situation is really tight, and they can't afford to have their own private apartment. Plus they want to be in the city itself -- and to do that, on the typical White House salary -- they have to make some compromises in their lifestyle.



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RELATED SITES:
Bush-Cheney transition
White House
Presidential Inaugural Committee 2001

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