Text: Cheney on Bush Transition Plans
Wednesday, November 29, 2000
Following is the
full text of Republican vice presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney's news conference
on transition plans by the Bush campaign.
RICHARD B. CHENEY: Good afternoon. I thank all of you for coming out
today. We wanted to have one more transition briefing down here to keep people
up with the developments in the course of our activities.
We've now acquired office space in McLean, Virginia, and it will be open this
afternoon. The location is 1616 Anderson Road in McLean. That will become the
site for the transition operation that we announced two days ago.
And from this point forward, we'll have the capacity to manage relationships
with the press at this location. There'll be room there for regular briefings.
So we'll be able to accommodate you there, and we won't have to come hunt for
locations every day when we want to have an announcement.
Secondly, the transition foundation now is up and running. It has been incorporated
under the laws of the state of Texas. Contributions are welcome, and we can
send contributions to the Bush-Cheney: Presidential Transition Foundation, c/o
Jack Oliver, at Post Office Box 1902, Austin, Texas, 78767. I'd remind people
that there is a $5,000 limit, and we accept contributions only from individuals,
not from corporations or from political action committees.
There is a fund-raising letter that will go out to our supporters over Don
Evans' signature today or tomorrow. And we expect, as well, to have a web site
up and operating by the end of this week.
As I had mentioned previously, Clay Johnson will serve as the executive director
of the transition. Clay, who has been the governor's appointment secretary and
chief of staff in the gubernatorial office, he will be relocating to Washington
to take up space out here in McLean this weekend.
In addition, we want to announce today Michael Toner, T-O-N-E-R, who has been
part of our legal team with respect to the campaign in Austin, he'll be coming
up as well as to transition as the transition legal counsel.
I also want to announce today that David Gribben, whom many of you know, will
become the director of congressional relations at the transition. Mr. Gribben
worked with me for many years, 10 years in the House of Representatives. For
four years, he was the assistant secretary of defense in charge of congressional
relations. He spent six years in the Senate as Dan Coates' chief of staff, and,
most recently, worked with me at Halliburton. And he will be joining us as the
director of congressional relations for the transition.
As announced previously, Ari Fleischer will become the press spokesman for
the transition. He will be joining us this weekend as well too. And he will
be assisted in the future by Juleanna Glover, who many of you have known. She's
here today. She's worked with me on my campaign, and she'll become Ari's assistant
in dealing with the press and public affairs for the transition.
Andy Card announced earlier this week that he has been in touch with Mr. Podesta
at the White House on a number of matters. I look forward next week to beginning
the receipt on a regular basis of national security briefings that have been
offered by the administration. We'll be happy to accept those.
Finally, tomorrow, I'll be traveling to Crawford, Texas, with General Colin
Powell and our wives to spend the day with Governor Bush and Laura Bush. And
this will give us an opportunity for an extended discussion of the transition
between General Powell, myself and Governor Bush. And I look forward to those
discussions as well.
And I'd be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: As part of the transition, has the governor been briefed
on the economic situation by the White House or by your own people? There's
some talk that the economy's slowing a bit.
CHENEY: We've had one session that I participated in, that Larry Lindsey
basically presented to us his views with respect to the current situation in
the economy. I would not want to characterize our perception at this point.
We clearly are following events with interest. I see the same commentary a lot
of other people do, that suggests that there may be a slow down in economic
activity in the economy at-large. I am personally not an economist, but it is
a subject clearly that is of interest to us.
There's nothing for us to do vis-a-vis those circumstances at this point,
but we're certainly aware of the possibility that that may be a development
in the very near future.
QUESTION: You are taking a very public role, as are other former members
of President Bush's administration. How do you avoid the appearance that Governor
Bush is relying too heavily on his father's friends? And how do you avoid the
appearance that he's retreating to his Texas ranch while you take charge?
CHENEY: Well, first of all, I think it's perfectly appropriate for
him to spend time on his ranch and to continue to spend time in Texas. On the
one hand, we've been criticized for being too forward-leaning. Now you suggest
maybe we're too laid back. I would suggest you can't have it both ways.
He's still the governor of Texas. He has very important responsibilities to
carry out there. That's why he spent a lot of time in Austin and time out on
We have the opportunity out on the ranch, because it's quiet and, frankly,
because there's not quite as large a presence of cameras and journalists. It's
a little easier to get things done, although we try to keep you informed of
developments as well, too.
This notion that somehow we're too reliant on the past, you know, I served
in the Nixon administration, I served in the Ford administration, I served for
eight years in Congress as part of the congressional leadership during the Reagan
administration. The other people who have already been announced, like Andy
Card, served not only in the Bush administration, as I did, but also served
in the Reagan administration. So the suggestions that somehow we are, quote,
"over-reliant," I just don't think holds water.
The fact of the matter is, when you put together an administration, one of
the things you look for are people with experience. And we've had a number of
Republican administrations over the 30-some years that I've been involved in
national politics, and many of us have had prior experience in the Bush administration,
but a great many other administrations as well. So the notion that somehow that
makes us over-reliant, you might as well say we're over-reliant on the Ford
The fact is, we're looking for experienced people, people who can bring a
lot to the team that Governor Bush wants to assemble, and we welcome folks regardless
of what prior administration they might have been affiliated with.
QUESTION: Yes. I'm wondering how did you follow-up exam go today and
how you're feeling.
CHENEY: It went very well. I went back to Georgetown today and met
with Doctors Malakoff, my internist, and Dr. Reiner, the cardiologist, and they
have subsequently issued a statement at GW basically saying that everything's
going very well. I don't want to speak for them medically. They're perfectly
qualified to do that. But everything was given a clean bill of health clearance.
QUESTION: Has General Powell been offered a position in the administration
or do you expect he will be soon? And, if not, what will he be doing at the
ranch this weekend?
CHENEY: General Powell has been invited to come down and spend the
day with the governor and myself. We both have great confidence in his judgment
and his ability.
I've known him for a long time, worked with him for a long time. He's been
a major adviser during the course of this campaign.
And it's not surprising, I think, that we would ask him to come down and spend
some time with us, talking about the transition, talking about how you might
put together your national security team for the perspective Bush administration.
Those are all subjects that I expect will be on the agenda.
We do not plan to make any Cabinet announcements this week, and I would not
anticipate an announcement tomorrow in that regard either.
QUESTION: Have you or anyone else on behalf of the transition or the
campaign made any contact with congressional Democrats? Do you think this is
the time now to start doing this?
CHENEY: We will start doing that very soon.
I've been in the posture, since I arrived here -- I guess we did the briefing
Monday afternoon. We were certified on Sunday, with respect to the vote in Florida,
and did the briefing Monday afternoon, that we were going to set up a privately
funded transition. This is Wednesday.
I've been working out of the kitchen in my house out here in McLean for the
last couple of days. Thank goodness for cell phones. We only have two phone
lines into the house, and cell phones have been a vital part of that. So we're
just in the business of getting up and running.
But we now have an office with a lot of space. We've got people signing up,
volunteers coming on, telephones being put in and computers. So we'll be fully
operational within the next day or two, and then I can begin a more sort of
orderly consultation process, if you will.
I have been trying to return a lot of phone calls. One of the unfortunate
aspects of having been around town a long time is, I know a lot of people. I've
suddenly got more friends than I realized I had when I left eight years ago.
And I'm hearing from all of them with advice and counsel and good thoughts for
us in the campaign. I'm trying to be as responsive as I can on a short-term
But one of the reasons for announcing, for example, someone like Dave Gribben
today as our director of congressional relations is we're getting equipped to
be able to go out and do a more sort of thorough, comprehensive process of consulting
with all of those folks the governor wants us to talk to as we put an administration
QUESTION: Have you talked, yourself, to any congressional Democratic
leaders in any kind of conversation? Or have you heard from congressional Democrats
that perhaps you know from your experience in town who are offering to act as
a sort of liaison, assuming that you become the clear winners at some point?
CHENEY: I have not talked with any congressional Democratic leaders
QUESTION: What about just congressional Democrats?
CHENEY: I have not talked with any congressional Democrats recently.
QUESTION: On the issue of relying on the barons from past GOP administrations,
on the campaign trail Governor Bush stressed that he was an outside of Washington
force and he was going to bring an outside of Washington perspective. How does
that square with bringing in all these insiders?
CHENEY: Well, I think it is a very important consideration for us as
we put the administration together. He's made it clear to me that he wants a
broad cross-section of people involved in the administration. I would expect
that there will be a number of individuals who will in fact come from outside
Washington, as the governor himself has.
But I don't see anything inconsistent with asking people who have got experience
at the federal level, as well as other levels. The state governments are a very
strong element of our governmental system in this country. We've got some fantastic
governors and other state officials. Yesterday, I talked with two governors
myself, with respect to seeking their advice and assistance.
So I would expect that we will certainly have a strong component, if you will,
of people with expertise and experience that they've garnered outside the nation's
capital, as well as a number of people who have served previously in administrations,
as I have.
QUESTION: Secretary, do you still feel that you're not getting enough
cooperation from the White House in terms of the transition?
CHENEY: I tried to be positive in my comments about the contacts between
Andy Card and John Podesta. I know Andy feels that the conversation went very
well yesterday. But my problem is, I've got a job to do and I've got to get
on with that.
I don't have time to worry a lot about how cooperative somebody is or is not
being at this point. I made myself clear yesterday: We believe that the election
clearly has been certified, that Governor Bush and I carried Florida, and that
it's time to get on with the business now of the transition.
The GSA is not yet to the point where they believe they can release the funds
and provide access to the office space that's available. That's fine. They're
the ones who have to make that judgment and that decision.
As I said when we met Monday, my job is to get an organization stood up, and
I've got a job to do, and I'll let others worry about the degree of cooperation
we have or haven't received.
One more question. Yes?
QUESTION: Of the myriad phone calls you get, are any of them from President
Bush? And if so, what are the nature of those phone calls?
CHENEY: I have talked with one former president. It was not President
QUESTION: How would you respond to criticism that, with your profile
in the post-campaign, that you are overshadowing the governor? And secondly,
will you be going to the White House for any of the security briefings?
CHENEY: I expect I'll receive the security briefings probably at transition
headquarters. And no, I don't worry at all about the first part of your question.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. As you know, Vice President Gore,
partly in response to your putting together a transition organization, is now
moving forward with a transition organization of his own. Given the fact that
you just said that you believe the election is over and certified, do you think
that the vice president should stand down in that...
CHENEY: I don't spend a lot of time giving Al Gore advice. He wouldn't
listen to me anyway. So I'll pass on the opportunity to do it in this case.
QUESTION: Do you think it's appropriate for him to do so?
CHENEY: I've spoken to the issue, Tom. The fact is that the election
in Florida's been counted, it's been recounted, it's been certified, and we've
got to get on with the business of putting together a government.
And what Vice President Gore chooses to do or not do, clearly those are matters
within his purview, and I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about
Thank you all very much. The next briefing we have will be out at the transition
headquarters in McLean, and we'll make those details available to you as soon
as possible. Thank you.