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Federal File: Coming and going

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The Children's Defense Fund scored a coup last week, as Bill Clinton made his first Washington appearance as President-elect at a posh fundraiser for the children's lobby.

The Arkansas Governor was actually accompanying his wife, Hillary, who was a featured speaker, a fact that fueled speculation about her role in the new Administration.

"In her, children surely have a strong voice,'' the C.D.F. president, Marian Wright Edelman, said in introducing Mrs. Clinton. "I have no doubt that whatever role she continues to play personally and professionally, she will do it with extraordinary effectiveness, grace, and care, and we will be the better for it.''

Mrs. Clinton once worked for the C.D.F., has been a member of its board since 1978, and was its chairwoman until last year.

"If we all do our part in our personal lives and our professional lives ... and particularly as citizens, this country will be able to say it is fulfilling the primary obligation of one generation to care for and nurture the next,'' Mrs. Clinton said.

Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander often repeats an Australian saying about the indignity of the formerly powerful: "Rooster today, featherduster tomorrow.'' The adage took on special meaning for him at a news conference last week.

The Secretary, who was in Wisconsin at a meeting, agreed to appear via video hookup at the announcement in Washington of a public-service advertising effort by business and education groups.

In brief remarks, the Secretary said he hoped the new Administration would continue the America 2000 program. Then he stared patiently into a television camera, waiting for media questions that never came.

The reporters were more interested in querying another participant--Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, who has been mentioned as a possible Secretary of Education--about how the Clinton Administration would address school reform.

"I'm not seeking a job'' and "haven't been offered one,'' he said. "I'm a governor. I have a lot of work to do.''

When asked if he would consider the education job if it were offered, Mr. Romer said he would, just as he would "look at any job offer.'' But he said he doubted he would be chosen.

Mr. Romer is one of the most frequently mentioned secretarial candidates.

So is Thomas H. Kean, the president of Drew University, who focused on education as governor of New Jersey. Newsweek reported last week that Clinton aides had called to ask if he was interested.--J.M. & M.W.

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