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Obama Cabinet Predictions: Who Could Get Picked?


First Posted: 11- 3-08 11:04 PM   |   Updated: 12- 4-08 05:12 AM

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UPDATED on November 5 at 8:00 p.m.

Even before Barack Obama's historic victory, Washington was abuzz over what a Democratic White House might resemble.

In recent days, an outline of an Obama administration has begun to emerge -- both in the rumor mill and in press reports. The campaign itself has specifically and repeatedly denied any efforts as such. But advisers to the Senator are well on their way to sketching out the staffing of key cabinet positions. And the picture presented is one of experience, talent and bipartisanship.

Chief of Staff

The key figure here is Rahm Emanuel, who has already been offered the job, according to several Democrats. While it was not clear he had accepted (his office denied an MSNBC report that he had), a rejection would amount to an unlikely public snub of the new president-elect within days of his electoral college landslide. People in the know, meanwhile, are saying the likelihood is Rahm will take the job (possibly as soon as Thursday morning) - he has experience in the White House, connections and respect on Capitol Hill, and the combative, competitive demeanor that might be an asset for the post.

If for some unforeseen reason Emanuel doesn't work out (sources say he's that much of a lock), the other name being bantered about is Tom Daschle, who has served as a key Obama adviser throughout the campaign and formerly served as Senate Majority Leader.

Attorney General

Janet Napolitano seems in line for this key-ranking position, which became a controversial post under the stewardship of Alberto Gonzales. The current Governor of Arizona is close with Obama, having endorsed his candidacy early on. And sources say that she wouldn't mind the move to D.C. What may end up deciding the appointment, however, is that Eric Holder -- who served briefly as AG under Bill Clinton and headed Obama's vice presidential search committee -- doesn't want to go through the rigors of a confirmation process and could take himself out of the running.

Secretary of State

Sen. John Kerry is reported to be aggressively advocating for this spot in Obama's cabinet, and indeed, no sooner had he won re-election to the Senate last night than "he refused to rule out the possibility he might give up his...seat for a position in the Obama administration," the Boston Globe reported. Rumors abound that Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is also in the running, though if Robert Gates is kept on as Defense Secretary, it seems unlikely that Obama would place two Republicans in such key positions overseeing global affairs.

Another Republican reportedly in the hunt was Sen. Dick Lugar, who worked with Obama closely on legislation to secure loose nuclear weapons in former Soviet nations. But Lugar ruled out serving under Obama on Wednesday. Other names in the running: former U.N. Ambassador Dick Holbrooke, current foreign policy adviser Susan Rice and Greg Craig, another top Obama foreign policy adviser.

Treasury Secretary

For, perhaps, this most important position, Obama has a slew of options. New York Federal Reserve Bank president Tim Geithner, "a protege of Clinton-era Treasury Secretary and Obama campaign adviser Robert Rubin," is reportedly under serious consideration. As Politico notes, "Geithner began raising the alarm about risks associated with the credit derivatives market years before the current crisis."

Larry Summers, who served as Secretary of the Treasury during the last year-and-a-half of the Clinton administration, is another name garnering a lot of attention. Within economic circles, he is widely regarded as uniquely capable for the job. Moreover, for the last month, he has been at Obama's side, advising him on the market turmoil. But his nomination could spark some protest over the poorly-worded remarks he made about women in academia while president of Harvard University. And his reputation as being intellectually abrasive and combative might make him a difficult fit for an Obama staff built around no-thrills unity.

Another official frequently mentioned is former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who has been a key endorser of the Obama candidacy in these tough economic times. At the same time, Obama could turn to Warren Buffet, though there is little indication that the Oracle of Omaha wants the job.

Defense Secretary

A consensus is emerging that, at least for the time being, Obama will keep current header Robert Gates in the cabinet. The job extension would provide the Illinois Democrat some bipartisan political cover as he begins to shift course dramatically in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here too, however, there are a host of different names from which Obama can choose his own appointee. These include Republicans such as Sens. Chuck Hagel and Gen. Colin Powell, as well as Democrats like Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and another key Obama endorser/adviser.

The list above excludes a bevy of names that have been rumored to be in the running for respective positions. But, from conversations with Washington insiders and in-the-know Democrats, it seems clear that the process of dwindling down the long lists of potential cabinet members has already begun. And the names emerging represent the type of politics that Obama has preached: competent, non-rigid, and above partisanship.


Other Top Names

Secretary Of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack

Secretary Of Energy
Dan Reicher
Ed Rendell
Jason Grument
Steve Westly

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Pete Domenici
James Woolsey

Secretary Of Education
Joel Klein
Caroline Kennedy

White House Counsel
Mark Alexander
Robert Bauer

Secretary Of Defense
Colin Powell

Attorney General
Deval Patrick

EPA Head
Robert Sussman

Here's a slideshow of potential Obama administration members:

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