Political foes George Bush and Jesse Jackson exchanged compliments Wednesday as they sat down to lunch, with the president-elect declaring they had a "relationship that transcends politics."
"Jesse Jackson's commitment to fighting drugs in this country is something from which I have learned enormously," Bush said before the lunch at his office.Earlier, Bush met with leaders of environmental groups and displayed an attitude that one of the leaders said showed a "night and day" difference from the Reagan years.
Spokesmen for the "Blueprint for the Environment," a coalition of some 30 environmental groups that presented Bush with detailed proposals, were uniformly positive in characterizing Bush's response to their goals. However, they acknowledged they had received no commitments from him other than that he would consider their proposals and would assign key Cabinet nominees to meet with them.
Bush said he and Jackson had met several times during his years as vice president and added, "We've had a relationship that transcends politics and it addresses itself to national issues."
Jackson, who was harshly critical of Bush during the presidential campaign, said he wanted to discuss issues including his belief that "the moral tone of our country must be re-established." Jackson had campaigned against Bush on behalf of Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, whom Bush defeated in the election three weeks ago.
In another overture to a prominent Democrat, Bush called the Senate's newly chosen majority leader, George Mitchell of Maine, to congratulate him shortly after Tuesday's secret-ballot election among Senate Democrats. Bush told Senate Republican leaders that he will seek speedy confirmation of his Cabinet.
Bush said he would meet with Mitchell on Thursday and with Dukakis on Friday. Vice presidential spokesman Stephen Hart said the Bush-Dukakis get-together, their first face-to-face meeting since the election, would be held at Bush's residence.
"It's a meeting with no agenda, just two men sitting down to chat," Hart said.
"He (Dukakis) doesn't want any adversarial type of relationship to occur," said Dukakis spokesman David Wood, adding that Bush requested the meeting two weeks ago.