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The President-Elect's News Conference Announcing the Nominations of Richard Thornburgh as Attorney General, Lauro F. Cavazos as Secretary of Education, and Richard G. Darman as Director of O.M.B.

November 21, 1988

. . . key goal of my transition is to appoint people of outstanding quality, integrity to government and to do so as expeditiously as possible. And this morning, I'm announcing three major steps in that process, my choices for three critically important Cabinet positions.

First, I would like to announce, well, the three together: Richard Thornburgh as the Attorney General, Lauro F. Cavazos as Secretary of Education and my intention to nominate Richard G. Darman as director of O.M.B.

Dick Thornburgh has served his state and country well for many years. He knows that Justice Department well, not only because of his current outstanding service as Attorney General but because prior to his two distinguished terms as Governor of Pennsylvania he worked as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and then afterward as head of the Department of Justice's criminal division.

Dick Thornburgh brings to the job of Attorney General a keen legal mind, a record of unquestioned integrity and a commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards, fighting drug abuse, attacking crime at every level, defending the civil rights of all Americans.

Attorney General Thornburgh has said that his top priority at the department is combating the scourge of drugs, and this matches my own priority for the department. He's already signaled his commitment by working with our neighbors here in the hemisphere to stop the flow of drugs crossing the borders and by fighting for passage of the recently enacted drug bill.

Thornburgh Mission

I'm appointing him because I know that he will work with me to fight drugs with every tool at our disposal, stepping up the interdiction efforts at various arms - by various arms of the Federal Government, many of them housed in the Justice Department, establishing an attitude nationwide of zero tolerance for drug use, stepping up our efforts to educate young people against drug abuse and to rehabilitate those who do use them.

Drugs are public enemy No. 1. A major part of Dick's mission will be to stop them from damaging our society and our country.

Dr. Cavazos has a long and distinguished record, as a university professor, as dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine and as president of Texas Tech University.

Since September, he's added even more to that remarkable record as President Reagan's Secretary of Education. And I've spoken with Larry Cavazos about my commitment to being the education President. The commitment to excellence in education is one that he shares. He's already made a major contribution to this cause.

And by asking him to stay in this vital post, I'm asking him to extend that contribution. And I put forward several ideas in the campaign for education reform during the last months: greater rewards for excellent teachers, making higher education more accessible to families of low and middle incomes, establishing magnet schools and merit schools and encouraging alternate teaching certification, just to name a few.

So I look forward to working with Dr. Cavazos to implement these ideas and to seek new ones. And I might just add this, I - Larry Cavazos happens to be an Hispanic American. His presence in my Cabinet will be just one more example, albeit a prominent one, of the many outstanding contributions that Hispanic Americans continue to make to our society.

Overriding all is Dr. Cavazos's commitment to excellence in education, and I look forward to working with him.

Selection of Darman

And perhaps the most difficult job has been saved for last, the job of director of O.M.B., Office of Management and Budget. It requires a deep knowledge, an intricate knowledge of the Federal Government, an understanding of and an ability to work with the United States Congress and an ability to master the details of Government programs and make them conform to a larger strategic vision of how to move this country forward.

Dick Darman qualifies on all three counts. He has a solid understanding of the economy and of the Government's role in helping it grow, having served as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, assistant to the President, deputy to the chief of staff during the Reagan-Bush Administration.

He's worked in the private sector as well, most recently as managing director of Shearson Lehman Hutton.

But beyond that, he's served in six Cabinet departments, generally in positions with key budget responsibilities. Dick Darman understands the numbers.

And he understands something else as well. I've stated that cutting th size of the Federal deficit is a top priority, and let me simply re-emphasize that point today. Dick Darman is the second key member of my economic team which I've announced will play a central role in that important effort, which will commence immediately when we assume office.

Because he understands both the Government and the economy so well, Dick will help make sure that the Bush Administration hits the ground running.

And so I'm proud to make these three appointments. I would like each of these gentlemen just to say a word and then I'll be glad to take a few questions. And perhaps the others can be cajoled into a taking a few, but we've got important work to do and so, Dick, if you'd lead off.

ATTORNEY GENERAL DICK THORNBURGH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Needless to say, I'm deeply honored and greatly pleased by the opportunity to continue serving an institution for which I have a great deal of respect and affection. I pledge to you that the Department of Justice will perform at a level that meets your fondest hopes and aspirations. I'm personally committed to the components of the program that you laid out during the campaign, with special emphasis on fighting drugs, enforcing the civil rights of all of our citizens, being attentive to the needs of the environment and imposing a crackdown on white-collar crime and official corruption.

I thank you very much for this appointment and I look forward to working with you once again.

MR. BUSH: Thank you, Dick. Larry.

EDUCATION SECRETARY LAURO F. CAVAZOS: Thank you very much, sir. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to serve in your Administration. I look forward, truly, to extending all of our efforts in eduction and to work with the education President.

There's much to be done. We will continue our thrust in the directions we've moved in already, and we will have the clear mandate from our department to educate every person in America to their fullest potential.

Sir, I appreciate your confidence and look forward to working with you.

MR. BUSH: Thank you, sir. Dick.

RICHARD G. DARMAN: Thank you, too, Mr. Vice President, Mr. President-elect. Like you, I feel that public service is not only an obligation and responsibility but also a great privilege. So I wish especially to thank you for the privilege of the opportunity to try to serve.

With you, I agree as to the importance of deficit reduction. It represents an obvious and major challenge. And I agree, also, that in reducing the deficit, we must have an eye toward some of the underlying problems so that the way in which we reduce the deficit is consistent with our longer-term interest in raising our savings rate, increasing investment, increasing productivity and assuring that our economic growth continues.

That's an enormous challenge. Mr. Vice President, under your able leadership, I'm certain that that challenge is manageable. I look forward to having the opportunity to play a part in attempting to help. Thank you very much.

MR. BUSH: Thank you, Dick.

I might add before taking a couple of questions - Andrea first - that I did have an opportunity to sit with each of these Cabinet members to reinforce what I was confident would be compatibility in terms of where we want the various departments to go, where we want the Federal Government to go.

And it's been an interesting process for me. I do plan, as a President, to have direct contact with these three Cabinet officers. And I've assured them of that. And we've spelled out in the case of Larry Cavazos and Dick Thornburgh certain objectives. I cited some of them here today. And I'll continue to work in a hands-on fashion with the members of the Cabinet after I am sworn in as President.

Dick, of course, has an enormous job ahead. We've, as he pointed out, share certain major objectives on all of that, and there will be a lot of day-to-day contact between the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the President.

And I hope that that will signal to the country my determination to keep the U.S. on a sound economic course and to battle our battle against this large Federal deficit.

Yeah - oh, Andrea I said, and then we'll go back. We'll just take a few questionS. I don't want to exhaust you with too many press conferences. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Darman and Budget Q. Mr. Vice President, you said that Mr. Darman understands the numbers. A. Yes. Q. If the numbers end up telling him and you that nothing can be worked out without some give on the revenue side, would you reconsider some sort of [unintelligible].

A: No, that's too hypothetical. We're going to pursue the course that the American people so overwhelmingly endorsed in the election.

Way in the back, yeah. And then, Sarah, you're third.

Plans for Budget

Q: Mr. Vice President, there has been some suggestions in the paper and Senator Domenici said yesterday that he doesn't know whether it's all that certain that you have to produce a companion budget or your own version of the budget once you take office. There have even been some reports that Mr. Darman has been making a few calls around Congress to see whether he could just make some suggestions rather than present a formal proposed budget.

What shape of a budget do you intend to present? Do you intend to present something that's formal or just a couple of pages of notes full of ideas?

A: No decision has been taken on that. Dick, as this is his first day officially appointed, I hope he's been doing some feeling out on the Hill and elsewhere. But we literally - and we're not dissembling here - have not decided exactly what to do.

The President will send a budget up to the Hill. And then before that we've obviously got to make decisions on who we will follow through.


Nation's Social Needs

Q: Sir, they all sound good, but I want to ask Mr. Darman. He said he was thinking about the long-term interest of the country and he mentioned investments and all that, but he didn't mention anything about the social needs of the country. I wonder if he'll tell us if he's going to be sympathetic to those, too.

A: When he gets a chance to answer, which is right after I finish three or four more questions, why don't you make that the first one. Yes.

Nature of Appointments

Q: Mr. Vice President, you have now named three holdover members of the Reagan Administration to be in your Cabinet without including Mr. Brady. Is this the end of the holdovers? Are we now going to start seeing new faces?

A: In all likelihood. In all likelihood. But I reserve the right to retain flexibility there, but I will keep my comitment to bring in lots of new faces. And that means at the Cabinet level and that means in other levels as well in the Government.

Yeah, Mark.

Input on Reagan Cabinet

Q: Could you tell us to what extent you influenced President Reagan to appoint Mr. Thornburgh, Mr. Cavazos and Mr. Brady to his Cabinet?

A: When I was in, you know, during the eight years, the way the White House has worked, I have not influenced personnel decisions. Every once in a while the system would ask my view. On the Cavazos appointment, a coming fellow Texan, and having known Larry, I was an enthusiastic endorser of somebody else's idea. I wish I could have taken credit for it.

As for Dick Thornburgh, he was so widely respected - they all knew of my respect for him - so I was - I don't know whether "consulted" would be the word, but apprised of what was happening and could say that that certainly would suit me.

But during the eight years as Vice President, that is one area that I really have not been actively involved in. It's not that the President didn't want me involved in it, but I just always felt that was a prerogative of the President. So most of the appointments I was not - did not initiate. Nor did I initiate either of these two. Yeah.

Meeting With Dukakis

Q: Do you plan to meet with Governor Dukakis over the Thanksgiving weekend, and for what purpose?

A: I have no plans for that. I want to see him at some time, of course. I remember - I remember, oh, in 1984, after a tough campaign, why I picked up the phone and called Congresswoman Ferraro. And I don't think she was sure whether the time was right and I wasn't sure, so we had a couple of intermediaries. We had kind of the guys that are holding your coat. And what we did then was to have the - have the people who, who played each other in the debates. So some guy from Washington - incidentally the same one that played me in the debates for Governor Dukakis appeared, and so did Lynn Martin, who effectively portrayed Congresswoman - it was kind of a nice ice breaker.

So, maybe - I don't know whether Dick's going to be free for lunch but, we might do something like that. No, but I want to do it. But I don't want to look - and I don't want to have a lot of show business. I want to hold out my hand and say: Look, the campaign is behind us; you got big responsibilities and we're going to work with each other. And so the question is a question of timing, and I might just pick up the phone any one of these days and do that, because that's the way I feel. Yeah.

Talks With Gorbachev

Q: Mr. Vice President, there's a lot of speculation, given the pressure on you to reduce the Federal deficit, that Secretary Gorbachev will be coming to the United States with the idea in mind that he can make you an offer that you can't refuse. That is, a conventional force reduction proposal that will allow you to cut the defense budget, thereby to lower the deficit without having to raise taxes.

What would you reaction be if Gorbachev made made a proposal of that kind?

A: My reaction would be that I will not accept or reject any proposals till I become President of the United States. And I will put together a national security team that will review and revise and set - review and revise policies, existing policies, and set forward my national security and foreign policy objectives for this country. And we will not be prepared to do that in early December before I take office.

I will make clear to Mr. Gorbachev that which I already have, that we look forward to continual improvement in the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. But in terms of specificity, in terms of my committing a brand new administration to specifics in arms control or anything else, I'm not going to do that.

And I don't think that the Soviets are under any illusion that I will do that. I will make clear to them that I really believe we have an enormous opportunity, as I said in the campaign and still feel, to make this world a safer place, a freer place, a place where the regional tensions are down.

So I - it is my intention to stay along these broad general lines. It's President Reagan's meeting. I will be there as Vice President of the United States. And I expect they'll be aware they're talking to the next President. But there will not be a specific agenda in terms of the kinds of things you're talking about. My receptivity to significant conventional force reductions. They've already made it clear that they're willing to talk those things. I would say that's progress, that's good. But not hitting the bid or coming with a counter bid at that meeting.

Texans on Cabinet

Q: Mr. Vice President, with today's appointment you now have two Texans in your Cabinet. There are at least two other candidates who have been widely speculated on -former Senator Tower and Governor [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. Can you put four on your Cabinet?

A: Sure. Oh, yeah. I could. I'm not saying I'm going to.

Q. [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. A. No. I'm not going to do any speculation. I'm the only one in town that is not publicly speculating on who will have these jobs. But I won't do that. My respect for John Tower is well know, and association with him over the years is well know. Dave.

Q: Mr. Vice President -

A: You, too, Dave. You're the second Dave.

Ethics Measure

Q: You mentioned in reference to the [UNINTELLIGIBLE] Mr. Thornburgh. The President now has on his desk an ethics bill, which I believe you endorsed during your campaign, and there's some question about whether he should sign the bill. Could you tell us if you recommend that the President sign bill - A. I never discuss what I recommend to the President. There's some flaws in this legislation; there's some good things in the legislation. We will have a forward-looking ethics program. I think it's already begun by the guidelines that have been spelled out for our transition. But the bill has some plusses, has some minuses. And the President's going to have make that determination. And then I will, I'm sure early on, have our own proposals in terms of an ethics bill.


Q: Mr. Vice President, how strongly committed are you going to be for the superconductor, superconductor and super[unintelligible] progress in your Administration, even though it could run up the deficit [unintelligible].

BUSH. Well, the decision has been made, I guess, as to where it - it seems to me as to where it's going to be. And then I think it's a question of taking a look at all the budget and finding out exactly what resource I will recommend be appropriated to every initiative. And I don't know yet, I just - I'm not -I just don't really have in mind - we haven't even begun to start getting these specific numbers against specific programs. And that will be one of Dick's major assignments.

We've got two more. Here we go. One up front - I'll take three, one, two, three. Short answers. I promise.

Talks With Salinas

Q: Will you be prepared to tell President-elect Salinas tomorrow about any new thinking you have in terms of the contras in Nicaragua? And do you expect that to be a sticking point between you two as it has been between other U.S. and Mexican excutives?

A: No, I won't come forward with any new initiatives. I don't expect it to be a sticking point, but I will have every opportunity tomorrow to make clear I am sure that I am committed to democracy in Central America. And the Sandinistas, regrettably, have not been willing to take the steps toward democracy that I find absolutely essential if we are going to have harmony in Central America. But, no, there will be no new program initiative.

Support for Contras

Q: Will there be continued support for the contras in terms of aid.

A: You're looking at one who continues, who has advocated long and hard, continual support for the contras, but is perfectly willing to encourage the peace process if it will lead to the Sandinistas fulfilling their commitment to the Organization of American States.

Yeah, Ralph, and then we'll get - these are the last two, honest.

Education Vouchers

Q: You mentioned alternative certification. I remember, it seems like years ago [UNINTELLIGIBLE], you said that you favored vouchers and you would push for that - education vouchers. Have you talked about that with your new Education Secretary?

A: He knows of my - I don't know whether we covered that specific - I guess we did yesterday in passing, but we are both agreed that that offers enormous opportunity. Whether we can implement a full system right a way in that regard, I don't know. But I am one who thinks that parental choice and the optimum - is the optimum thing to encourage excellence in education.

The last one.

Deficit and Cutbacks

Q: Mr. Vice President, since you've been elected, the estimates of the deficit have increased. And some analyses out of the Congress say that some programs are growing far faster than inflation, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which would reduce the amount of money you'd have for the programs you outlined during the campaign. What affect do all of these facts on what you hope - A. Too early to tell. I've got to sit down with my budget director and go into exactly where we stand on all these numbers. But I don't think there's been any dramatic change in the figures we've been dealing with. The G.A.O. seems to come out with reports periodically. But I will be persuaded much more by what my budget director tells me is the reality that by the new reports. Although they're perfectly, you know, willing - they should feel perfectly free, as they do, as an arm of Congress to come up with reports. I'll be meeting today with President Ford and President Carter, and they've got some ideas on this. And I'm open-minded. I'm open-minded in terms of hearing from all these people as to what - not only what the situation is, but what we do about it. But I am not inclined - in fact, I'm not going to change my view as to how we get this deficit down.

I spelled out a program to some degree - I think a considerable degree. It was endorsed by the American people. I don't remember any Republican or Democrat running on please-raise-my-taxes program. I don't remember that. There may have been a handful, but I don't remember many of them.

And so Dick is coming in here. We'll take a fresh, objective look at the figures. We are going to do what is necessary in terms of the question asked back here about budget processes. I'm under no illusions about the simplicity of all of this. I am determined to get that budget deficit down. I am determined to work with the United States Congress to get it down. And we are going to assemble - are assembling a team with Secretary Brady and Dick Darman, who know the Congress, know how to work with it. And do I would leave it right there. But I can't get discouraged every time somebody comes out with a yet another report. And if we get - here are the figures; here's what I, George Bush, and my Administration are going to do about them. And Jan. 20 is when I become President.

And in the meantime, I will keep saying that I am determined to do something about it, because there is a certain psychology out there that - where people need a certain reassurance. And I'm prepared to give that reassurance and to state to the American people and to the world: This is priority, and I'm going to do my level best to cope with this problem in a way that keeps the economy going, keeps opportunity alive and gets our deficit down. But I am not pessimistic about the U.S. economy at all.

Now, thank you all very, very much. Thank you.

George Bush, The President-Elect's News Conference Announcing the Nominations of Richard Thornburgh as Attorney General, Lauro F. Cavazos as Secretary of Education, and Richard G. Darman as Director of O.M.B. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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