The White House asked President Reagan's political appointees to submit their resignations Thursday, one day after President-elect George Bush said he would revitalize government with "a brand new team of people."
Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the request for resignations, customary at the end of an administration, was made by White House chief of staff Kenneth N. Duberstein during a breakfast meeting with the Cabinet and heads of various agencies."He asked that all presidential appointees submit in a timely fashion their resignations at the pleasure of the president," Fitzwater said.
He said the officials were also being asked to stay on if necessary to help in the transition.
"It is probably fair to say that all political appointees at all levels should be prepared to resign or depart on Jan. 20," the presidential spokesman said.
"President Reagan, of course, is free to accept anyone's resignation at any time, and the president-elect would have that decision to make after the 20th," he said.
"There might be cases where he wouldn't have someone to fill that position and would want someone to stay on for awhile," he said.
Neither Bush nor Reagan attended the breakfast meeting but both attended a later meeting with Duberstein and were to attend an afternoon Cabinet meeting during which the transition and other matters were to be discussed.
Even before Bush won the presidency, job applications were pouring into his standby transition office. The stream of resumes is expected to turn into a flood now at newly opened Bush transition headquarters.
Just hours after claiming victory, Bush took the first steps Wednesday toward assembling his presidency.
The president-elect, at a news conference in his adopted home of Houston before flying back to Washington, named James A. Baker III, his campaign chairman and longtime trusted adviser, to be secretary of state. It could be the most important post in a Bush presidency, given the vice president's emphasis on foreign affairs and his interest in pursuing progress with A Moscow.
Baker, while preparing for his diplomatic duties, also will play a major role in the transfer of power to Bush from Ronald Reagan.
Craig Fuller, Bush's vice presidential chief of staff, and campaign pollster Robert Teeter will share authority as co-chairmen of the transition team.
Mindful that the first months of an administration set the tone for relations with Congress and foreign governments, Bush said, "I will have a game plan."
"Part of what the transition is about is to spell out the priorities. I spelled them out (during the campaign) in broad terms, in terms of keeping the economic expansion going and in terms of world peace. But the election ended yesterday," Bush said.
"We will now have (73) days . . . to formulate a game plan, the first 100 day priorities, if you will, and they'll be specific."
In an announcement sure to send shivers through the ranks of the 5,000 political appointees happily at work in the Reagan administration, Bush said, "I will for the most part bring in a brand new team of people from across the country."
"And in my view that will reinvigorate the process," Bush said.
He deliberately left room for some Reagan holdovers and veterans to join his administration. "There will be . . . a major turnover but some people at various levels may be asked to remain."
On the flight back to Washington, Bush said he wanted to announce the rest of his Cabinet "sooner rather than way late" and would think about the possible choices during a Florida vacation this weekend.
It has been widely assumed Bush will ask Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos to stay on. All three joined the Reagan administration in recent months.
Thornburgh said Wednesday he had been given no indication of whether Bush wanted him to remain.
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