Bush Eyes Top Cabinet Posts
Nov. 14, 1988
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President-elect George Bush tried to soothe jitters on financial markets Monday by promising quick action on the budget deficit, while his advisers signaled an early appointment of an economics team expected to be led by Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady.
Bush, meanwhile, fueled speculation about his White House appointments by inviting New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu to dinner at a vacation retreat in Florida. Sununu is considered a leading candidate to be chief of staff. So is Craig Fuller, chief of staff in Bush's vice presidential office.
As Bush relaxed at the Gulf Stream home of millionaire friend William Stamps Farish III, his aides said the vice president planned to consider candidates this week for senior Cabinet posts. A list of three to five names was being drawn up for each post, the aides said.
Bush will return to Washington on Tuesday. He is expected to announce that Brady, a longtime adviser and friend, will remain as treasury secretary after Jan. 20, when the Bush administration begins.
Leaders of Bush's transition team said the president-elect wants to consider four or five senior Cabinet choices this week. They said he especially wants to assemble his economic team rapidly, which also is likely to include former Deputy Treasury Secretary Richard Darman as budget chief, and Stanford University professor Michael J. Boskin as chief White House economic adviser.
''I think that the economic team, under any circumstance, would be one you'd want to pay attention to early on,'' said Robert Teeter, a co-director of the transition with Fuller.
Bush's words of assurance about the deficit seemed to have some effect. The Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks, which had lost almost 80 points since Bush's election, including a 47-point drop Friday, steadied and ended the day Monday down only 1.95 points. The dollar also recovered some of its losses.
Bush has no timetable for making appointments, and will announce them as decisions are made, Fuller said. Bush already has named former Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III as the new secretary of state.
But Bush said Monday he will hold back on ''any special missions'' involving Baker because he doesn't want to ''pre-empt the official foreign policy machinery of this administration.''
Asked specifically about his policy toward Nicaragua, Bush, speaking to reporters on the beach, said ''Those who are looking for radical policy shifts won't find them. Now if you're looking for new initiatives or something of that nature, maybe we'll have something to say on that. But in terms of reiterating my support for the freedom fighters, I'm glad to keep on doing that.''
Bush also did nothing to dampen speculation that the White House would be run by a power-sharing triumverate of Sununu, Fuller and Teeter. ''Stay tuned. I'll have announcements on that pretty soon,'' Bush said.
On his return to Washington, Bush and Vice President-elect Dan Quayle will meet Tuesday with visiting West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Bush also is to meet Wednesday with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Bush said he had not spoken to Quayle since the day before he came to Florida. Asked what functions Quayle would perform, he said: ''No specifics yet. I had a very good meeting with Sen. Quayle ... but we didn't get into specific assignments.''
He said that his campaign pledge that Quayle would head a space council is ''a given.'' But he said that his wish that Quayle head the anti-drug war has ''been complicated a little bit by the new legislation'' calling for the appointment of a full-time drug czar. ''I have to get - we're getting a good legal opinion ... I must comply with the law, but I think that a president can have people report to him any way he wants. But I want to know more about it before I can go further,'' Bush said.
Meanwhile, Quayle said he will resign his Senate seat before Jan. 3 - probably a day o two earlier. That will allow outgoing Indiana Gov. Robert Orr to name a Republican replacement before Democratic Gov.-elect Evan Bayh is sworn in.
The list of possible Senate successors includes Rep. Dan Coats, a former aide to Quayle who holds the seat in the House that the vice president-elect once held; Indiana House Speaker Dan Mannweiler; county prosecutor Steve Goldsmith; Lt. Gov. John Mutz, who was defeated last week in a bid to become the state's governor and Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut. Others whose names have cropped up include former EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus; Rep. Dan Burton and Mitchell Daniels, a former White House political director and former close adviser to Sen. Richard Lugar. Quayle's wife, Marilyn, also has been mentioned.
Bush's strategists hope Brady's reappointment will calm turmoil on world financial markets, where the value of the dollar and stock prices have skidded because of uncertainty about the economic policies he will pursue.
Bush, minimizing market jitters, said, ''these gyrations happen.''
Bush pledged to follow the Reagan admnistration's policy of coordinated intervention with U.S. allies in exchange marekets when major currencies rise or fall too quickly.
Trying to assure the financial community that he will move quickly to deal with the huge budget deficit, Bush said, '' I will address myself to that early on in my presidency ... It is a matter of great urgency.''
In Washington, Fuller and Teeter talked by telephone with the vacationing Bush. Fuller said they were preparing a list of three to five names for each major appointment he has to make.
''The vice president does want to look at a series of names,'' Teeter said. ''He wants to examine some of the criteria and some of the issues that will be facing each of those departments so that he can consider people in that context. But he certainly wants to look at a series of names for each and every job - he made that clear to us last week.
''There are four or five senior jobs in the Cabinet that are all being looked at right now and that he is going to want to meet on and consider this week,'' Teeter said. He said that in most cases, Bush would want to talk with candidates before picking one.
Asked about the timing for naming a defense secretary, Teeter said, ''I don't think it's particularly close.''
A transition source said that while some people will be appointed quickly, others will take weeks as they undergo a full FBI background check that takes two to four weeks.