In a recent interview, former U.S. Attorney
General Janet Reno declined to give the California Bar Journal the
scoop on her potential bid for Florida governor. But Reno said she may
know for sure whether she'll attempt to unseat presidential son and
brother Jeb Bush by the time she arrives at the State Bar's Annual
Meeting this September.
So there's still a chance - however slim -
that State Bar of California members will hear it first.
Reno accepted an invitation by the California
Women Lawyers Association to address attendees of the organization's
annual dinner, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 6 from 7:30 p.m. to
10 p.m. at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel. Tickets are $95 per person. Reno
appears on the first night of the bar's Annual Meeting, which runs
through Sunday, Sept. 9.
Though she hadn't yet put pen to paper, Reno
said from her Miami-area home that her speech will include, among
other as-yet undecided topics, domestic violence, access-to-justice
issues in terms of women and children, and the strides women lawyers
have made in occupying prominent legal positions.
"I think women are better problem solvers,"
Reno said. "Women generally look at a situation and instead of
ascribing guilt or innocence, they say, 'How can I keep this from
happening again?' So it's not a revolving door.
"If (women) use their shrewdness, their common
sense, their problem-solving skills, I think they can move up the
As the nation's first female attorney general,
she's one to talk. Though Reno was plagued by controversy for the
disastrous raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, her
order to gain custody of Elian Gonzalez by force, and her
investigation of President Clinton's fundraising activities, she
also is remembered as a fiercely independent attorney general.
During her lengthy watch - Reno was the last
century's longest-serving attorney general - there was a national
decline in crime rates and conviction of Timothy McVeigh, perpetrator
of the Oklahoma City bombing.
These days, the 63-year-old Florida native is one
of the nation's most requested speakers. In February, she signed a
speaking deal with the New York-based Greater Talent Agency. She
visited Northern California in May, when she served as the keynote
speaker at the University of California at Berkeley's commencement
said she hasn't had time between engagements to take that
cross-country drive in her red pickup truck, the one she mentioned in
exit interviews with the media early this year. "I'll have to work
it in afterwards," Reno said of the road trip, should she decide to
go for the governorship.
Though Reno was elected as Miami-Dade County's
state attorney five times before she became attorney general in 1993,
there is some buzz that she could have a hard time securing Florida
votes, given her opposition to the death penalty, the unpopularity of
the Elian Gonzalez raid among the Cuban-American community, and the
fact that she suffers from Parkinson's Disease.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1995, Reno told
the Associated Press in May that the degenerative disease would not
limit her activities as governor. "It would make my hand shake,
that's all," she said.
Though she declined to critique her Republican
successor, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Reno expressed dismay that
President Bush may well block her former boss' plan to allow federal
funding for stem-cell research, which shows great promise in fighting
Parkinson's and other diseases.
Bush may well block the controversial
experiments, in which the cells are harvested from human embryos.
Abortion foes argue against tampering with embryos, which they say
amounts to the taking of human life.
"I think you ought be able to conduct research
that gives the opportunity for human life," Reno said. "I don't
understand the argument on the other side . . . there should be no bar
to the use of federal funds for such research. It just doesn't make