Clinton close to naming a 'few' Cabinet members

November 26, 1992|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Staff Writer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- President-elect Bill Clinton me yesterday with candidates for top administration jobs -- Rep. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt -- and said he was close to a decision on a "few" Cabinet appointments.

He reacted cautiously to a report of surprisingly strong economic growth in the third quarter of this year, saying the economic picture remains muddy.

"But it could have some impact on short-term judgments," he said, referring to the issue of whether the economy will require an immediate stimulus of government spending when he takes office.

Mr. Clinton spoke between routine visits to two doctors, after which he said, "I'm healthy."

His aides, meanwhile, announced the appointment of nine people who will coordinate studies of federal agencies to advise Mr. Clinton and incoming Cabinet secretaries on possible problems, changes and personnel needs.

The leaders include former astronaut Sally Ride, recently defeated Democratic Rep. Thomas J. Downey of New York and former Denver Mayor Federico Pena.

Noting the mix of women and minorities, George Stephanopoulos, the Clinton communications director, said the list "looks like America," a reference to Mr. Clinton's promise to make appointments that reflect the nation's population.

Mr. Stephanopoulos said the president-elect is "spending most of his time concentrating on the Cabinet appointments." But he added, "The governor's made no decisions whatsoever on his Cabinet."

In response to reporters' questions, the communications director said the president-elect would decide soon on a "few" appointments.

Mr. Clinton met Tuesday with Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a possible candidate for Treasury secretary, and retiring Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth.

Mr. Wirth, Mr. Babbitt and Mr. Richardson have been mentioned as possible heads of the Energy and Interior departments and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr. Richardson sits on the Energy and Commerce committees, the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee on Aging.

He is a strong advocate of a free-trade agreement between Mexico,the United States and Canada -- one of the thorniest issues facing the new administration.

On another difficult issue, relations with China, Mr. Stephanopoulos said news of a Chinese pullback on human rights is "very troubling," but shows "why we have a need to show a firm hand" on human rights and democracy.

Reacting to the election loss Tuesday of Georgia Sen. Wyche Fowler Jr., for whom Mr. Clinton campaigned Monday, Mr. Stephanopoulos said, "We're disappointed. It was an awful close race."

But, he added, "now it's time to move onto the future and look forward to working with" the winner, Republican Paul Coverdell.

After an early-morning workout at the YMCA, Mr. Clinton visited an internist and a cardiovascular specialist and made light of the findings.

He said his blood pressure was "110 over 68, not bad for a man my age."

Of his weight, which is a problem for him, he said, "I have to lose 10 more pounds, but I'm doing a good job. I'm taking a lot off."

Mr. Clinton is scheduled to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with his wife, Hillary, their daughter, Chelsea, his mother and Mrs. Clinton's parents.

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