Cox downplays appointment possibility

April 12, 2001

S.J. Cahn

NEWPORT BEACH -- President Bush has made sure to leave elected

Republicans in their place.

That, in a nutshell, is Rep. Christopher Cox's (R-Newport Beach) take

on rumors swirling around him that he is Bush's pick for a vacant federal


Cox, speaking Wednesday morning after making remarks at the Commodores


Club Scholarship Awards Breakfast, emphasized that he enjoys his position

as one of the House's top Republicans.

"Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated," said Cox, who is

chairman of the House Policy Committee and the fifth-ranking Republican


Those reports, which came from Washington last week, have the

48-year-old Cox taking a position on the influential U.S. 9th Circuit

Court of Appeals.

Cox was careful to say that no offer form the White House has come,

and he pointed out that Bush has not tapped any elected Republicans to

leave their seats.

"He's followed a very deliberate policy, and for a reason," Cox said.

Despite Cox's low-key reaction, a number of potential successors have

tentatively lined up, although all are waiting for official word of the

appointment and Cox to step down from his seat.

Top possible contenders include state Sen. Dick Ackerman (R-Tustin),

Assemblyman Bill Campbell (R-Villa Park) and Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

Others who are considering a run include former Assemblywoman Marilyn

Brewer, former Rep. Jim Rogan, Newport Beach philanthropist John Crean,

state Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine), former state Sen. John Lewis and

Tustin millionaire Mark Chapin Johnson.

Cox also praised Bush for his "superb job" in handling negotiations

with China, which resulted early Wednesday morning in the announcement

that the 24 members of the American spy plane that had collided with a

Chinese fighter jet 11 days earlier were being released.

He pointed out that the U.S. apology sent to the Chinese did not admit

guilt where it was not warranted.

"It appropriately distinguishes between an intentionally caused

collision" and an accident, Cox said.

Cox, who two years ago led a House investigation into alleged Chinese

spying, began his remarks to the awards breakfast by announcing the news.

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