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Political Profiles

By JOSE ANTONIO O'FARRILL AVILA

The News - México City, December 26 2000

Bush Begins Transition Process

U.S. President-elect George W. Bush, who was finally declared the presidential winner after a prolonged and confusing process in a country considered an electoral role model, is on his way to taking office on Jan. 20 despite opposition diehards.

The situation stemming from the electoral process left a bitter taste in the mouths of many supporters of Vice President Albert Gore. Bush will have to keep this well in mind and try to reunite the United States which continues to be, like it or not, the world's most powerful nation, making Bush the world's most influential president.

The former governor of Texas will be faced with a major task: to demonstrate to the world that the United States is united and that it's capable of clearing all obstacles.

On Saturday Bush tapped conservative Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general.

Ashcroft is expected to be the center of controversy.

A Republican from Missouri, Ashcroft is a deeply conservative senator who lost his reelection bid last month to a dead man.

However, Bush went to bat for Ashcroft, saying ''will be faithful to the law, pursuing justice without favor. He will enforce the law and he will follow the truth.''

Ashcroft said he would ''strive to be a guardian of liberty and equal justice.''

"I will administer the Department of Justice with integrity, I will advise your administration with integrity and I will enforce the laws ... with integrity,'' he promised Bush.

Bush, asked how his department would differ from the Clinton administration, said he didn't want to ''look backwards.''

He said Ashcroft will do his job ''in an impartial way, not in a political way.''

Bush defended Ashcroft against complaints from civil rights groups that he helped defeat the nomination for a federal judgeship of Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White, the first black on the high court.

''He had his reasons of blocking a single nomination. And I thought about that, and I looked at the facts, and I listened to him. And there's no question in my mind that this is a person who believes in civil rights for all citizens,'' Bush said according to published reports.

At the Justice Department, Ashcroft would manage an agency that comprises the FBI, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors, marshals and prisons, among others.

Ashcroft undoubtedly will be a major link in many meetings between Mexico and the United States.

Therefore, we wish Ashcroft and other Bush collaborators the best luck, hoping they can strengthen Mexico-U.S. relations even more.