- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

Warren Christopher, who led Bill Clinton's search for a running mate in 1992, will reprise the role and screen candidates for Vice President Al Gore.

"I welcome his experience and judgment in this important effort," Mr. Gore said of the former secretary of state in a statement.

Scott McClellan, a spokesman for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, chuckled and said, "We hope [Mr. Christopher] does a better job than last time," when Mr. Clinton selected Mr. Gore.

Political analysts have proposed a long list of potential running mates for Mr. Gore.

They include Florida Sen. Bob Graham, a finalist for Mr. Clinton in 1992; North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt Jr.; Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin; Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh; Gov. Gray Davis or Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both Californians; Energy Secretary Bill Richardson; and Franklin D. Raines, a former Clinton budget chief who is now chief executive of Fannie Mae.

But right now, Mr. Gore "doesn't have a short list or even a long one," spokesman Doug Hattaway said.

Mr. Bush has not announced a search team. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee "will look for [a running mate] who is ready to be president of the United States, who shares his conservative philosophy and who will be loyal," Mr. McClellan said.

"We'll let you know when we have more to say."

Mr. Christopher, 74, headed Mr. Clinton's protracted search in 1992. That team, which included Washington lawyer and Clinton friend Vernon E. Jordan Jr. and former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, identified 40 possible Clinton running mates by April 23.

The committee interviewed all 40 candidates and bounced the names off a cross-section of 50 "opinion leaders."

Mr. Christopher and his staff wrote memorandums of up to 15 pages on each potential running mate, assessing their qualifications, voting records, financial status and public statements.

The Christopher panel narrowed the list to six potential running mates by June 8.

Mr. Clinton then had two long meetings with Mr. Gore and announced his selection in Little Rock, Ark., on July 9, the week before the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Bush deals with fresh speculation each time he meets with a Republican governor, such as Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey or George E. Pataki of New York.

All three are pro-choice on abortion, which leads to speculation about other potential Bush running mates, such as Rep. John R. Kasich of Ohio, Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio and Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee.

"Time will tell whether my position is viewed as a strength and as an asset or as a negative by Governor Bush," Mr. Ridge told MSNBC on Wednesday.

Mr. Christopher, senior partner with the Los Angeles firm of O'Melveny & Myers, has been associated with the firm, off and on, for 50 years.

Mr. Christopher, who was second in command at the State Department in the Carter administration, directed Mr. Clinton's presidential transition team and served as secretary of state during Mr. Clinton's first term.

Mr. Clinton announced Mr. Christopher's departure in November 1996, just after the president won his second term.

"It is no exaggeration to say that Warren Christopher has literally been America's elder statesman," Mr. Clinton said.

"Those of us who have worked with Chris know that his quiet dignity masks a steely determination," Mr. Clinton said.

The president joked about Mr. Christopher's trademark Savile Row wardrobe.

"This is the same Warren Christopher, I would remind you all, who made People magazine's best-dressed list, the only man ever to eat presidential M&Ms; on Air Force One with a knife and fork."

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