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Transition Aides Land New Officials While Bush Fishes

Times Staff Writer

Still boasting about the 13-pound bonefish that didn’t get away--until he set it free--President-elect Bush spent the final Saturday before his presidency casting off the Florida Keys as advisers fleshed out his Administration.

Mindful of the skepticism given most big fish stories, Bush jocularly presented witnesses to his Friday night catch as he departed for a full fishing day, waving at onlookers and shouting greetings to a British tourist on a nearby dock.

“Would Margaret Thatcher like a little bit of this bonefishing action?” Bush asked 52-year-old Maggie Arnold, a hair stylist visiting from Bournemouth, England.

Arnold vowed to ask the British prime minister for a response when she returned home.

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On Saturday, aides announced, he pulled in 25 more fish, including a 2-foot shark.

Treasury Officials Named

As Bush relaxed, his transition office in Washington announced the selection of four sub-Cabinet Treasury Department officials, all either current Treasury employees or affiliated with Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady.

Brady was one of several longtime Bush friends who traveled here to fish with the President-elect.

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David C. Mulford, now an assistant Treasury secretary, was named undersecretary for international affairs, and Ede Holiday, also an assistant secretary and the director of operations for the Bush campaign, was selected as the department’s general counsel.

Charles H. Dallara, an assistant secretary for policy development, will become assistant secretary for international affairs, the section to be headed by Mulford. And Hollis S. McLoughlin, Brady’s chief of staff six years ago when the secretary was a U.S. senator from New Jersey, was named assistant secretary for policy development.

First Lady’s Staff Grows

The soon-to-be First Lady’s staff also grew Saturday as transition officials announced that Susan Porter Rose would serve as Barbara Bush’s chief of staff, Anna Maria Perez will be her press secretary, Laurie Firestone her social secretary and Julie Cook her director of programs.

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Rose is Mrs. Bush’s current chief of staff and Firestone has served as her social assistant. Perez is the press secretary for Rep. John R. Miller (R-Wash.) and Cook worked for the Bush campaign as a liaison for Mrs. Bush.

The vice president’s wife did not accompany Bush to Florida on the annual fishing trip he shares with male friends. Aides said she was packing for the move into the White House on Friday.

Her husband, wearing casual clothes, exhibited good cheer as he took a bit of ribbing over his Friday night catch.

“Here’s my witness here,” he told reporters, pointing to fishing guide George Hommell.

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Hommell quipped: “Both of us Georges never lie.”

“That’s our story and we’re staying with it,” Bush deadpanned later.

Offers Photo of Fish

Bush also offered to release photographs made of the fish--which he released alive after weighing it--"if it looks good. It verifies what I said,” he added.

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His catch came within 3 pounds of the area record for bonefish, which the 64-year-old President-elect described as “pound for pound, as fighting a fish as there is anywhere in the world.”

Bush returns to Washington today with only five days remaining before taking the oath as President.

On Saturday, he said he had yet to tackle seriously his inaugural address, which is being written by Peggy Noonan, the speech writer who crafted many of Ronald Reagan’s speeches and was credited with Bush’s best campaign efforts.

On Monday, the holiday commemorating the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bush will speak at a Washington prayer breakfast sponsored by black Americans in honor of King.

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