POLITICS
06/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Wants 'Team Of Rivals' Cabinet, May Keep Bush's Defense Secretary

Barack Obama has never been shy about comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln. He did so when he announced his candidacy at the Illinois state capitol, where both he and Lincoln served in the legislature. "The life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible," Obama said. "He tells us that there is power in words ... He tells us that there is power in hope." That was, well, audacious, to say the least--and the comparisons have continued, on issues large and small. But the most important similarity, in Obama's mind, is how he plans to govern if elected.

Obama has said he admires Doris Kearns Goodwin's wonderful Lincoln biography, Team of Rivals. "He talks about it all the time," says a top aide. He is particularly intrigued by the notion that Lincoln assembled all the Republicans who had run against him for President in his war Cabinet, some of whom disagreed with him vehemently and persistently. "The lesson is to not let your ego or grudges get in the way of hiring absolutely the best people," Obama told me. "I don't think the American people are fundamentally ideological. They're pragmatic ... and so I have an interest in casting a wide net, seeking out people with a wide range of expertise, including Republicans," for the highest positions in his government.

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