12/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Axelrod: No "Potted Plants" In Obama's Cabinet

Appearing on ABC's This Week, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod was asked whether a potential Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would have the "full backing of the president" and "a direct line to the White House."

"I think it's fair to say that all of these appointees will have the full backing of the president, that's why he's selecting them," Axelrod said. "And the one thing I can tell you from working for six years with Barack Obama -- that he is someone who invites strong opinions. He enjoys that -- he thinks it's an important element of leadership. And I think that he'll have a great working relationship with his entire Cabinet. They are not going to be potted plants. ... They are going to be partners with him in governance, and he is going to encourage that. And I'm sure that that's the message that he's given to everyone he's spoken to about potential positions in the administration."

Axelrod also sought to downplay concerns among progressives that some of Obama's cabinet choices signaled a departure from the agenda he backed during the campaign.

"The president-elect was clear throughout the campaign that when he became president, that he was going to give the secretary of Defense a new mission, and that mission was going to be to wind down our involvement," he said. "Nothing has changed. And, obviously, events are moving in that direction as we speak. But our supporters can be, and the entire nation, and the world can be assured that the commitments that he's made are the commitments he's going to keep."

Watch a clip from This Week below, and read more about Obama's Cabinet here.

Axelrod offered similar comments in Sunday's New York Times, emphasizing that Obama's cabinet will be there to carry out the president's agenda.

"He's not looking for people to give him a vision," said Mr. Axelrod, who will be a senior White House adviser. "He's going to put together an administration of people who can effectuate his vision." [...]

"Barack Obama never offered himself as an ideologue -- he's a pragmatist and a problem solver," Mr. Axelrod explained. But he added: "We are not living in a time that allows for incrementalism. His goal is to form bipartisan consensus. I don't think that goal is more important than achieving a result."

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