- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2000

George W. Bush yesterday warned terrorists not to view the extended delay in the transfer of presidential power as an opportunity to attack U.S. interests at home or abroad.
"The warning ought to be that as we decide this election, people should not try to take advantage of our nation," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush said he believes President Clinton, who will remain in power until Jan. 20, will take swift action against terrorists in the event of an attack and promised he will if he becomes president.
"I have all the confidence in the world that the Clinton administration and the next administration, which I hope is the Bush administration, would do whatever it takes to send a chilling signal to terrorists that we'll protect our property and our people," he said.
Mr. Bush, who as president-elect continues to move ahead with his transition plans, also conferred yesterday with his foreign policy advisers on the Middle East crisis and said he is nearly finished with his behind-the-scenes selection of top White House staff.
As he continued preparations to be sworn in, Mr. Bush met with foreign policy adviser Condoleeza Rice in Austin, yet refrained once again from naming her or other candidates to top posts in his administration.
"There will be an appropriate moment to name those people," Mr. Bush told reporters at the governor's mansion. "And Condi Rice is on the list."
Miss Rice, a Russian expert on the National Security Council in the administration of Mr. Bush's father, is all but certain to be named national security adviser. Mr. Bush hinted strongly yesterday that he is ready to announce many more key advisers.
"In terms of the White House staff, I've spoken fairly directly to people about possible service in the White House," he said. "I could name a few folks pretty quickly if I so chose to do so."
But aides say Mr. Bush is holding back on such announcements until probably next week, after Vice President Al Gore's court challenge to the election in Florida is resolved. The Texas governor yesterday spoke to his lawyers and his spokesman in Florida, James A. Baker III, and expressed confidence in the outcome.
"It seems like all the different court suits are working their way into finality, and I hope we can get this over with quickly," Mr. Bush said. "The people who have analyzed this from a legal perspective are absolutely confident the law is on our side."
The Texas governor couldn't help but poke a little fun at Mr. Gore's protracted court challenge of the election in Florida.
"I've won it three times, so I'm hoping to win it the fourth," Mr. Bush said.
One of Mr. Bush's most vocal supporters in Congress, Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma, reported yesterday that people who want Mr. Gore to concede are signing a petition on Mr. Watts' Web site at a rate of 1,500 per hour.
By midafternoon yesterday, the petition at jcwatts.com had amassed more than 20,000 signatures, Watts spokesman Ron Bonjean said.
"Al Gore wants each vote to count, and we want to make sure he knows what each voter thinks," Mr. Bonjean said.
For the second consecutive day, Mr. Bush received a national security briefing from a CIA official as part of the transition process. Later, Mr. Bush said he had discussed the violence in the Middle East with Miss Rice and retired Gen. Colin Powell, his likely nominee for secretary of state.
"We spent a lot of time talking about how to seize what I believe is a very unique moment in American history to promote a foreign policy that is bipartisan," Mr. Bush said. "We talked about trade; talked about setting priorities, including making sure our friends know that we're friends.
"I understand the important role the United States can play [in the Middle East]. But the United States must not set artificial timetables. We've got to be patient firm and patient," Mr. Bush said.
The president-elect also checked in with his father, the former president, who had hip replacement surgery on Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"He can't run any laps yet, but he's doing well," Mr. Bush said. "He wanted me to brief him on everything I knew. He sounded great."
Asked by a reporter if his father had given him any post-operative advice, Mr. Bush replied, "Take care of your hips."
Sources told the Associated Press yesterday that several top members of Mr. Bush's campaign would likely get jobs on his White House staff, including:
Chief political strategist Karl Rove, who is said to be in line either for a top White House strategy post or a similar job at the Republican National Committee.
Karen Hughes, Mr. Bush's spokesman and a member of his inner circle, who will probably get a title such as "counselor to the president," instead of becoming White House press secretary or communications director.
Ari Fleischer, a campaign spokesman who now handles media for the Bush-Cheney transition office in McLean, probably is to become White House press secretary. Mr. Fleischer also has worked with the media on Capitol Hill.
Mindy Tucker, another campaign spokeswoman now assigned to Florida, was likely to be offered a top communications job in a potential Bush administration, aides said.

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