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The BBC's John Simpson
"The delay in getting a new president has been damaging"
 real 56k

Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 17:40 GMT
Bush bows out of Texas
George W Bush
Bush takes leave of Texas: Focus is now on Washington
US President-elect George W Bush has formally resigned as governor of Texas to concentrate on preparing his cabinet team.

Serving as the governor of the great state of Texas... has been a higher honour than I could ever imagine

George W Bush
His successor, Texas Lieutenant-Governor Rick Perry, will be sworn in in the state capital Austin later in the day.

At a ceremony at the State House, Mr Bush said: "Serving as the governor of the great state of Texas... has been a higher honour than I could ever imagine.

"There's only one thing that would cause me to leave early, and that's to become your president."

Mr Bush said his six years as Texas governor had been a time of steady progress, and of the bipartisanship that he intends to take to Washington.

"I'm proud of the good we've done together in Texas, and I'm looking forward to the good we will do together in America," he said.

Having cleaned out his governor's office - including his collection of autographed baseballs - Mr Bush was scheduled to meet a bipartisan group of legislators to discuss his education plans.

Educational debate

The president-elect plans to use a voucher system to enable parents to send their children to private schools, if state-funded schools are failing.

Democrats have long opposed vouchers as a betrayal of the US public school system.

The team so far
Agriculture Secretary: Ann Veneman
Commerce Secretary: Don Evans
Housing Secretary: Mel Martinez
National Security Adviser: Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State: General Colin Powell
Treasury Secretary: Paul O'Neill
White House Chief of Staff: Andrew Card
Mr Bush will discuss education reform with Hispanic leaders from around the country.

He has yet to appoint an education secretary, but one of the leading contenders for the post is a former Democratic congressman, Reverend Floyd Flake.

A black church leader from New York, Rev Flake is a supporter of charter schools, a scheme in which private companies are given taxpayers' money to run schools, usually in deprived areas.

On Wednesday Mr Bush named three more administration officials, as President Clinton's top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, accused Mr Bush of undermining the economy for his own political ends.

He said Mr Bush was "injecting more fear and anxiety into the economy than is justified", to pave the way for a Republican plan to cut taxes.

Mr and Mrs George W Bush
Now George and Laura Bush will be doing less shuttling between Austin and Washington
Vice-President-elect Dick Cheney fought back on Thursday, defending his team's comments about the economy.

"We don't want to talk down the economy, clearly, but there does seem to be a lot of evidence that the economy has slowed down," he said.

Mr Bush has said he sees "warning signs of a possible slow-down", and has proposed tax cuts of $1.3 trillion over a 10-year period.

"I believe strongly that tax relief is part of the prescription for any economic ill that our nation may have," he said.

New nominees

Mr Bush's comments came as he nominated Paul O'Neill, the chairman of the giant aluminium company Alcoa, as treasury secretary.

Paul O'Neill
Paul O'Neill: Last in the administration under Gerald Ford in the mid-70s
He said that he wanted someone with a steady hand to manage any economic slow-down.

Mr Bush also appointed long-time friend and political ally Don Evans to the post of commerce secretary, Californian Ann Veneman as agriculture secretary, and former Cuban refugee Mel Martinez as housing secretary.

Other leading Republicans tipped for positions yet to be announced include former Republican Senator Dan Coats as the next defence secretary.

Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating is in the running for attorney-general after Montana Governor Marc Racicot declined to be considered for the job for personal reasons; and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman is the leading contender for head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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See also:

20 Dec 00 | Business
Bush economics team
19 Dec 00 | Americas
Chat at the White House
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Pressure mounts for electoral reform
14 Dec 00 | Business
Tax cuts and free trade
20 Dec 00 | Business
Businessmen and 'supply siders'
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