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Cheney Meets With Engler

December 15, 2000

McLEAN, Va. (AP) _ Vice President-elect Dick Cheney met with Michigan Gov. John Engler on Friday and tossed around names for Cabinet and White House jobs. Engler, considered a potential Cabinet member himself, said he’s not looking for a job.

``Being governor of Michigan is a terrific job. I haven’t been looking for something,″ Engler said as he left the Bush-Cheney transition headquarters here.

Engler said he had made various suggestions to Cheney for appointments, but declined to discuss them with reporters.

``I’m just a volunteer ... whatever I can do to help,″ said Engler. He said Cheney had made terrific progress on the transition despite a schedule abbreviated by the election dispute.

Asked whether Cheney and President-elect Bush will tap Democrats and moderates, Engler said the most important job qualification is not political stripe but management experience.

``Whether you are conservative, moderate or liberal, if you are a good manager, they’re going to be looking for you,″ he said.

As for his own plans, Engler said he’ll be working with the Bush administration in his role as chairman of the National Governors’ Association. He said he and his wife ``don’t really look at Washington as the right place for us right now.″

Aides said various people will be visiting Cheney to discuss administration appointments or provide suggestions and advice on policy or personnel issues.

Cheney, who is overseeing the transition for Bush, also had a conference call planned later in the day with Bush, Clay Johnson, executive director of the transition, and Andrew Card, who is expected to be Bush’s White House chief of staff. The subject was Cabinet appointments and White House staff jobs.

Bush is expected to begin making staff and Cabinet announcements as early as Saturday, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Cheney was expected to remain in Washington on Friday night and aides declined to say whether he would join Bush in Texas over the weekend. But they said Cheney would probably meet up with Bush when there are job announcements to be made.

Engler was sometimes mentioned as a potential Bush running mate. He was head of Bush’s campaign in Michigan, which the Texas governor lost during the primaries and the general election.

He found himself on the opposite side of the school voucher issue during the campaign _ Bush favors voucher-like payments to parents of children in failing schools; Engler opposed a state referendum on vouchers.

With keys to a new office and $5.3 million in taxpayer transition money, Cheney said Thursday that the administration will begin filling Cabinet jobs ``as rapidly as we can.″

``We are going to do everything we can to get everyone named as quickly as possible,″ he said after being handed the electronic card that opens a 90,000-square-foot, government-supplied transition office near the White House. It had been off limits during the election dispute.

But as nice as it was to finally get the federal transition space, Cheney still plans to work at a temporary Bush-Cheney transition office set up Nov. 30 with private funds.

That office is just minutes from his home. ``It’s a great commute,″ Cheney said with a smile, ``and I want to take advantage of that.″

Working with just half the time available to most administrations, Cheney said naming the entire Cabinet before the holidays might be tough.

A more realistic plan, he said, is to name the Cabinet as quickly as possible and forward their security clearances to Congress in time for lawmakers to begin holding confirmation hearings in January and be ready to start voting on them after the inauguration Jan. 20.

The FBI plans to expedite security checks for Cabinet members, Johnson said.

The McLean, Va., transition office has received more than 21,000 resumes for 6,000 jobs; most were sent electronically to the transition’s Web site, aides said.

The Bush-Cheney transition foundation has raised nearly $3 million in private money and spent nearly $500,000 so far, most of it for the temporary office.

The General Services Administration, a government agency in charge of federal property and equipment, is considering whether the Bush team may use some of its taxpayer money for transition expenses already incurred.

Seventy-five full-time transition staffers are working on policy proposals, fielding job applications and otherwise preparing for the new administration. Cheney said some will move to the downtown office, which is designed for a staff of 540.

``Welcome to the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Team!″ says a sign posted near an elevator. ``Finally!″ says another.

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