- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2000

The shape of the new Bush administration remains hidden behind a swirl of speculation and uncertainty over the results of the election, but that hasn't stopped a tornado of names from reeling about inside the Beltway including some Democrats.
The Bush organization now stuck partway between a campaign and a transition team has been quietly trying to assemble a Cabinet for weeks, but has been unwilling to name names so long as there remains a question as to whether George W. Bush will become president.
Still, some top nominations have been in the works for more than a year, including Mr. Bush's promise to name retired Gen. Colin Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bush, as secretary of state. That would make him the highest-ranked black Cabinet member in U.S. history.
Mr. Bush has also made clear that his foreign affairs adviser, Condoleezza Rice, a former provost at Stanford, will be his national security adviser. She would be the first woman ever to hold the position.
But for the first time, names of Democrats in the Bush Cabinet have sprung up. One often mentioned is former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia as possible defense secretary. And some in the Bush camp say Mr. Bush might pick a Southern Democrat, such as Rep. Ralph M. Hall of Texas, to lead the Energy Department and another to head the Agriculture Department.
The Texas governor's loyal communications director, former TV reporter Karen Hughes, is likely to become the press secretary in a new Bush White House.
And Lawrence Lindsey, Mr. Bush's economic adviser and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is in line for a key economic position perhaps chairman of the National Economic Council and eventually chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Mr. Bush has not ruled out naming him Treasury secretary.
Republicans said yesterday that Mr. Bush's chief strategist, Karl Rove, is likely to have a role in the administration, although it's not clear where. Some raised the possibility that Mr. Rove and campaign manager Joe Allbaugh would opt to be special assistants to the president without high-profile titles but with considerable influence in the White House.
Campaign chairman Don Evans, meanwhile, is widely rumored to be in line for secretary of energy or commerce.
Mr. Bush has already named former Transportation Secretary Andrew Card, a veteran of President George Bush's administration, as his White House chief of staff. Mr. Card was deputy chief of staff under John Sununu in the White House under President Bush.
Beyond these fairly obvious choices, things become much more murky.
"We've spent a lot of time on it, we have some excellent ideas," Mr. Bush's, running mate, Richard B. Cheney, who is heading the transition effort, said on NBC's "Today" show yesterday. "We could move fairly rapidly in a couple of areas, but [Mr. Bush] has to decide the timing, when he wants to announce, whether or not he wants to begin right away or to announce as a package, and those decisions haven't been made."
Even though Mr. Bush's certification in Florida as the winner gives him enough electoral votes to be president, campaign aides say he is unlikely to name any Cabinet candidates at least until the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the Florida election results on Friday.
But Mr. Bush is almost certain to reward Republican governors, who were aggressive in campaigning on his behalf, with plum Cabinet posts.
Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a former FBI agent and U.S. attorney, is the likely choice for attorney general, although other names have been floated for the spot, including Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, who has emerged in recent days as a leading Bush spokesman, and Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who led the Senate hearings into Democratic fund-raising abuses in 1996 and has been sharply critical of current Attorney General Janet Reno.
Knowledgeable Republicans said yesterday that Mr. Racicot would likely become interior secretary instead and that Mr. Bush would find another place for Mr. Thompson, giving the Justice Department to Mr. Keating, one of the most loyal of Mr. Bush's supporters.
Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, hand-picked by Mr. Bush to head the sensitive platform committee hearings during the Republican Convention, is also a likely choice for the Cabinet, Republicans say. His name has been variously attached to the departments of Transportation, Education, and Health and Human Services.
Despite embarrassing Bush losses in Michigan in both the Republican primary and presidential contest, Gov. John Engler is likely to be somewhere in the administration, Republicans say, although it's not clear how eager he is to move to Washington.
At least one governor has taken himself out of consideration. Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III has another year left on his term and he said this week that he would definitely finish his term. Republican sources say he is in line to head the Republican National Committee, although some party members say that post may go to one of the party's most prominent Hispanic officials, Rep. Henry Bonilla of Texas.
Many qualified would-be Cabinet members are off limits to Mr. Bush this year thanks to the peculiar results of the congressional elections. The Senate is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats and House Republicans have a razor-thin majority of nine seats. That makes it more difficult for Mr. Bush to pluck out promising members of either chamber.
"It would not be a good thing in trying to enact his agenda and our agenda if we lose a lot of our senators," said a senior Republican senate leadership aide, who asked not to be named.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and Mr. Bush's most serious primary rival, has already said he will remain in the Senate rather than take a Cabinet post. He had been widely rumored to be a leading contender for secretary of defense, although congressional Republicans say that was never a realistic possibility given the bitter primary battle between Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain.
A few other members of Congress might be in line for Cabinet posts, including Rep. Jennifer Dunn of Washington, who has made clear her desire to join the administration, and Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio, who was active in the campaign on behalf of both Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.
A great unknown in the Cabinet selection speculation is the number of Democrats who might be included. Both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Card said yesterday in television interviews that Mr. Bush might have to include Democrats as a way to heal the bitterness created by the close, contested election in Florida.
Names that surfaced yesterday included former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, who could become secretary of defense. Other names circulating among congressional Republicans included conservative-leaning Democrats such as Sen. John B. Breaux of Louisiana and Rep. Charles W. Stenholm of Texas.
It's not clear, of course, whether any Democrats would accept such posts.
There was speculation in Washington yesterday that Mr. Bush would tap North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. as secretary of education, but Senate Republicans were quick to dismiss such talk. Staffers and some members say Republicans would never accept a Democrat in charge of education since Mr. Bush made it a signature issue in the campaign and had considerable philosophical differences on the issue with his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore.
The most intriguing, but arguably least likely, speculation among Republicans yesterday was that Mr. Bush might reach out to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mr. Gore's running mate, to take a position in the Cabinet.

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