- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

President-elect George W. Bush is consulting a wide range of conservative leaders for their views on policy and prospective appointments to his incoming administration.
"It's been made clear that while he is considering nonconservatives as well as conservatives for jobs and advice, he has no intention of deserting his base of support," a Bush adviser said privately. "He is checking with conservatives and listening to them on some of these appointments and issues."
A senior Bush-Cheney transition official will head the outreach effort, which is expected to formally begin this week, to movement conservatives, or those who have devoted decades to defining and implementing a conservative agenda.
"Our transition team is seeking advice from people across the political spectrum who have a diversity of views," transition spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Mr. Bush and his senior advisers have sought privately and regularly advice from a variety of conservative leaders throughout the presidential primary and general-election campaigns.
Conservatives who were not involved in the Bush campaign or transition applauded the latest move.
Dan Oliver, a longtime conservative activist and counsel to the Education Department under President Reagan, said Mr. Bush "needs to find talent and he is not a fool. He knows a lot of conservatives with talent in managing government."
Conservatives seem to be far less distrustful of Mr. Bush's position on tax cuts and other issues than they were of his father, President George Bush, when he first came into office in 1989.
Barely four months into his administration, for example, President Bush, along with his chief of staff, John H. Sununu, reached an agreement with the House Republican leadership that was supposed to give them virtual veto power over any revenue proposals sent to Capitol Hill and which might be judged to resemble a "duck" that is, a disguised tax increase.
The House Republican leadership back then was composed of House Minority Leader Robert Michel of Illinois and House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich of Georgia.
"The president clearly is going to consult with Michel and me on any question of 'duckery' [tax increases]," Mr. Gingrich said at the time in confirming the behind-the-scenes agreement between congressional Republican leaders and the White House.
President-elect Bush, by contrast, got the seal of approval from conservative leaders when he appeared before a panel of prominent conservatives at the outset of the Republican primaries last year.
Indeed, some Republicans with longtime ties to the Bush family believe that the current outreach to movement conservatives is mainly symbolic precisely because they already trust him.
"The problem Bush senior had in succeeding Ronald Reagan was that his instinct was to bring his own people in to replace the Reagan people," said Mark W. Davis, a speech writer in the first Bush White House. "But Bush senior wasn't the kind of figure Reagan was he didn't have an army of conservatives experienced in government to replace the Reagan army.
"So, he let go all the Reagan people, who were quite good, and basically had to scramble to fill those slots with people mainly from the business world, and it took them years to figure out how the political system works," he said.
"George W. doesn't have to make up that deficit," Mr. Davis said. "He is plugged into the political right and can bring in good people committed to his ideas."

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