Bush fills three more top offices. Darman to tackle deficit; Thornburgh, Cavazos remain
Moving quickly to put his leadership team in place, President-elect George Bush has announced his nominees for three more top administration posts. Telling reporters that he wants his administration to ``hit the ground running,'' Mr. Bush disclosed in a press conference yesterday that two members of President Reagan's Cabinet, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, have been asked to stay on when Bush takes office.
Bush also announced his choice for director of the Office of Management and Budget, Richard G. Darman, a former deputy Treasury secretary and high-level Reagan White House aide.
These appointments follow Bush's decisions last week to name James Baker III, a longtime confidant and former Treasury secretary, as secretary of state and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu to be White House chief of staff.
Bush seemed especially pleased to announce Mr. Darman's appointment, calling it a ``signal to the country of my determination to keep the United States on a sound economic course and to battle against this large federal deficit.'' Financial markets have reacted with pessimism since the election over Bush's ability to reduce the nation's budget and trade deficits. The stock market has experienced several marked dips, and the value of the dollar has declined against other currencies.
A tough player with a knack for compromise, Darman is not a new face in Washington. He is the veteran of six Cabinet departments under several presidents. A workaholic and dealmaker, Darman is a close associate of Mr. Baker.
In the first four years of the Reagan administration, he oversaw the work coming out of the White House budget review board and the legislative strategy group. He followed Baker when the former White House chief of staff traded places with Donald Regan at Treasury. During the campaign, he played Michael Dukakis in Bush's debate practice.
Citing the need for a budget director with a ``strategic vision of how to move this country forward,'' Bush praised Darman as a man with ``a deep knowledge of the federal government, an understanding of and an ability to work with the US Congress, and an ability to master the details of government programs.''
Darman acknowledged yesterday that reducing the deficit ``represents an obvious and major challenge.'' But, he added, ``that challenge is manageable.''
Bush said he met with each of the three appointees to ensure their ``compatibility'' before he made his final decision, and he promised to have regular contact with them. The vice-president indicated that Mr. Thornburgh and Mr. Cavazos will probably be the only Reagan Cabinet members asked to stay on, saying he wants to ``bring in lots of new faces'' at all levels of his administration.
Bush says he decided to keep Thornburgh at his post because of his ``keen legal mind, a record of unquestioned integrity, and a commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards.'' The President-elect said Thornburgh's top priority will be ``combating the scourge of drugs ... with every tool at our disposal.'' Bush said the department would step up drug-interdiction efforts and establish a nationwide attitude of zero tolerance for drug abuse.
Thornburgh echoed Bush's comments on the battle against drugs and added a few more items to his agenda. He cited a special emphasis on ``enforcing the civil rights of all of our citizens, being attentive to the needs of the environment, and imposing a crackdown of white-collar crime and official corruption.''
Bush praised the record of service to education by Secretary Cavazos in announcing his request that the Hispanic educator remain as head of the Education Department. Since Bush made a campaign promise that there would be a Hispanic in his Cabinet, the reappointment of Cavazos was expected.
``There is much to be done,'' Cavazos said after being introduced by the President-elect. Cavazos, a Democrat, says his goal is to ``educate every person in America to their fullest potential.''
Bush used the opportunity to repeat his campaign commitments to increasing the role of exceptional teachers in the schools, making higher education more accessible to low- and middle-income families, establishing magnet and merit schools, and encouraging alternative teaching certification.
Pressed by reporters about recent studies dealing with the deficit, Bush said he is ``open minded'' in terms of reviewing varying points of view. But, he said, ``I'm not going to change my view on how we get this deficit down,'' a reference to his pledge against new taxes.
``I don't remember any Republicans or Democrats running on a `please-raise-my-taxes' program,'' Bush said. He indicated that he is ``determined'' to work with Congress on the deficit issue and that Darman will take a ``fresh, objective look at the figures'' in attempting to come up with solutions.