Tony Clark on the Bush camp's careful steps toward the White House
CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark has been following the campaign of Gov. George W. Bush in Austin, Texas.
Q: Dick Cheney has been quoted as saying that there may be Democrats appointed to a Bush Cabinet. What are people in the Bush camp saying behind the scenes?
CLARK: At this point, no one has been named to a possible Bush administration, but Andy Card, who would be the chief of staff in Bush's administration, said the governor is well aware of how close the election was and the need to work with Democrats. And, perhaps, include Democrats in a Bush administration. One name being talked about is former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia as possible secretary of defense.
Q: Are they serious about this or is this just window-dressing?
CLARK: I think they are serious. They are well aware of the difficult situation they would face if Bush becomes president. He would have a U.S. Senate that looks like it will be evenly divided, and a country that in this election has been almost evenly divided. The task of bringing people together to accomplish anything is going to be monumental.
One thing Bush stressed in the campaign was his ability as governor to work with Democrats. Even before he was elected governor six years ago, when he thought he would win, he began making overtures to the person who was going to be the lieutenant governor -- a Democrat -- and said, "Look, I think I'm going to win. We're going to need to work together."
So, being able to work in a bipartisan environment is something the governor has stressed, and I think they are quite serious in wanting to bring Democrats in. The difficulty, because of bitterness of the presidential contest, may be in getting Democrats to agree to be part of a Bush administration.
Q: What has the Bush camp's reaction been to Al Gore's appearance last night and his explanation that votes shouldn't be set aside because they were too difficult to count?
CLARK: They were not impressed. One senior aide said there was nothing new in what the vice president had to say, and that his talk of counting every vote "rings hollow." There is also the sense here that the vice president is running out of time, both in the courts and in the court of public opinion.
Q: What has the Bush camp done to promote the latest CNN/USA Today-Gallup poll that shows 56 percent of those polled believe Gore should concede?
CLARK: One of the things that the Bush campaign does, and I'm sure Gore's aides do it as well, is e-mail reporters, pushing both the editorials that raise questions about the vice president's support and also polls that question the vice president's support. It's another way to add pressure [on the Gore camp] if people are talking about fading support ....
Q: Has it been confirmed that Gen. Colin Powell would be Bush's secretary of state? Is Powell talking?
CLARK: His name has been tossed around throughout the campaign, and he did campaign for Gov. Bush. There is some talk, and there has been some reporting, that while Powell is being discussed as a nominee, he doesn't want to be named at a time when this whole election controversy is still swirling around.
One of the things that Andy Card mentioned is that Bush is having to walk fine line between getting things done for a transition and not appearing presumptuous. That's one of the reasons we're not seeing names being trotted out the way you might see them.
Q: Any other news on the transition?
CLARK: They're having to raise money and set up their own transition office, as we reported yesterday. The Clinton administration did the same thing in 1992 when the Bush White House was a bit slow in helping them.
Q: Is money readily available for such things?
CLARK: The Bush campaign has found it can raise money relatively easily, both at the start of the campaign, and as the Florida recount battle began. They sent out e-mails to supporters who have given in the past, asking for $5,000 a person.