Newspapers Report that Thompson Likely to Accept HHS Position
As President-elect Bush moves forward with his transition, naming four more cabinet members yesterday, the New York Times reports that he has "tentatively decided" on Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) as HHS Secretary (New York Times, 12/21). The Washington Post reports that state officials "said they believe ... Thompson has accepted" an offer from Bush (Allen, Washington Post, 12/21). Thompson "is known as a pioneer" in welfare policy, as well as an abortion-rights opponent. The Times notes that conservatives consider Thompson an "acceptable" choice for the "influential" domestic policy post (Mitchell, New York Times, 12/21). Thompson, who met with Bush in Washington on Tuesday, would not comment on the situation. Asked whether he had made a decision, Thompson said, "On what? I really have no comment at the present time. ... The decision, I assure you, has not been made." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Thompson has told some Republicans that he would "prefer to run the Department of Transportation." But Scott Reed, a Republican strategist and manager of Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, said, "Sixty percent of the Bush agenda is going to pass through HHS. [Thompson]'s more valuable to the president-elect there than anywhere else, including Madison." Current HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, who worked with Thompson during her tenure as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said she would "love to transition to" Thompson. She added, "He's wonderful. He's not considered an ideologue by anyone I know that's worked with him" (Chaptman/Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/20).