Wisconsin’s Gov. Thompson Mulls HHS Post
President-elect Bush has asked Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) to serve as secretary of HHS, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Officials close to Bush confirmed that Bush offered the position to Thompson during a phone conversation yesterday. Thomspon, however, has not yet accepted the position and is expected to announce his decision next week after a trip to Mexico (AP/Richmond-Times Disptach, 12/22). Speaking to Wisconsin reporters, Thompson said, "I'm going to go on vacation and I'm going to think it over and have a decision and an announcement when I come back. I'm having a difficult time. The president really wants me." He added, "He thinks I can do a good job for him and for the country, and that's basically it. The con, of course, is that I love you people. I love Wisconsin." David Keene, of the American Conservative Union, said, "[Thompson's] conservative. He's strong. His major identification is as sort of the father of welfare reform. And he's pro-life." According to Keene, Bush aides "assured conservatives" that Thompson would get the nod to head HHS, which has "the clearest line of authority over issues important to social conservatives" such as abortion and welfare (Hutcheson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 12/22).
Whitman Accepts EPA Post
Bush is expected to announce today that New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) will head the Environmental Protection Aagency. As a "polarizing figure" in the GOP, she is favored by "economic conservatives" because of her "zeal" for tax cutting policies. "Social conservatives," however, have often criticized her support of abortion rights (CNN.com, 12/21). Environmentalists are "skeptical" of her nomination, even though she has kept an "unpopular" auto emission test designed to curb air pollution in the "densely developed" Garden State (AP/Richmond Times-Disptach, 12/21).