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1 Team Obama on Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:54 pm


Team Obama: the runners and riders for the next Cabinet

Blog_hstrange_2 As the President-Elect mulls his Cabinet, we take a look at the runners and riders.

Secretary of State

In the Frame:

Senator Hillary Clinton – Mr Obama’s vanquished primary rival has emerged as a leading contender after it was confirmed she attended a secret meeting with the President-Elect this week. Joe Biden, who is said to have a key role in deciding the post, has expressed admiration for her knowledge of foreign affairs. As an added bonus, the appointment would prevent her from taking shots at an Obama administration in preparation for another run at the presidency.

Senator John Kerry – The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and Vietnam veteran has a long history of involvement in US foreign policy, having played a key role in exposing illegal CIA activities in support of the Nicaraguan Contras and sponsoring numerous bills relating to terrorism and defence. But though he was initially tipped as a favourite, well-placed sources have suggested this is no longer so. He may instead inherit Mr Biden’s role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson – The failed 2008 primary candidate has both Cabinet and foreign policy experience as former Clinton energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations. He has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the release of hostages and political prisoners in Iraq, Cuba and North Korea.

Former Senator Tom Daschle – Arguably a less experienced candidate though the former Senate Majority Leader has served on the Veterans Affairs Committee and was an intelligence officer in the US Air Force before entering politics. He threw his weight behind Mr Obama early on and later became a national campaign co-chair – his loyalty has likely earned him a post, if not this one.

Republican Senator Dick Lugar – Mr Obama is keen to appoint a Republican to the Cabinet to promote bipartisanship and may offer State to Mr Lugar if he doesn’t do it elsewhere. The senator spent six years at the helm of the Foreign Relations Committee and much of his work has been focused on disarmament around the world. Co-sponsored the Lugar-Obama Proliferation and Threat Reduction Initiative and backed Mr Obama’s foreign policy approach during his campaign, but may not want the job.

Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke – A highly experienced diplomat, has been Assistant Secretary of State for both Europe and Asia and was a top foreign policy adviser in Mrs Clinton’s presidential campaign. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize no less than seven times.

Top of agenda: talks with Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela; deal with a resurgent Russia, tackle the Middle East peace process; surf a swelling wave of global expectations.

Treasury Secretary

In the frame:

Larry Summers – An award-winning economist and professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Mr Summers held the post for the final 18 months of the Clinton administration. Has been involved in political controversies, which contributed to his resignation as Harvard President following a five year stint. Writes a column in the Financial Times.

Robert Rubin – Mr Summers’ predecessor and currently the director of Citigroup, he also headed the National Economic Council under Bill Clinton. Described by the former President as the greatest treasury secretary since Alexander Hamilton, he has however been accused of helping to create the conditions for the current financial crisis by strongly opposing regulation of derivatives.

New York Federal Reserve Bank President Tim Geithner – Worked under Mr Summers and Mr Rubin as Under-Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, later joining the Council on Foreign Relations and International Monetary Fund. Was involved in the Bear Stearns and AIG Bailout and the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker – Serving in the job under Presidents Carter and Reagan, his policies were credited with ending the stagflation crisis of the 70s but also contributing to the recession of the early 1980s. Endorsed Mr Obama early on and later became one of his economic advisors.

John Corzine – The New Jersey Governor and former CEO of Goldman Sachs served on the Treasury’s borrowing committee and chaired a presidential commission under President Clinton. Active in economic policy as a Senator, but is currently the focus of a New Jersey conflict of interest investigation over his former relationship with a senior union representative.

Top of the agenda: taking control of a deeply troubled economy; managing the $700 billion bailout; finding the money for spending pledges and $80 billion-a-year tax cuts.

Defence Secretary

In the frame:

Incumbent Robert Gates – Could be the token Republican in Mr Obama’s Cabinet. Has decades of experience in the CIA and National Security Council, heading the former under George H.W. Bush. Would provide continuity though might prevent Mr Obama from making other internal changes at the Pentagon.

Former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig – Currently an Obama defence adviser, Mr Danzig also served in the DoD under President Carter and is a trained lawyer with experience of human rights law, which could come in handy.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel - Another contender for the token Republican role, Mr Hagel served as Deputy Administrator for Veterans Affairs under Reagan and received multiple honours for his service in Vietnam. Currently serves on the NATO Observer Group, numerous Senate committees including Intelligence and Foreign Relations, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Was one of the first Republicans to support withdrawal from Iraq.

Former Secretary of State Gen Colin Powell – Though also a Republican, Mr Powell’s foreign policy approach chimes more with that of Mr Obama than it ever did with the Bush administration. Earned points for breaking ranks to endorse Mr Obama and is popular with liberals, but was considered weak for failing to stand up to President Bush during disagreements over the Iraq invasion.

Top of the agenda: withdrawal from Iraq; redeployment to Afghanistan; modernise military

Attorney General

In the frame:

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano – a political heavyweight once tipped as a presidential candidate, Ms Napolitano served under Bill Clinton as US Attorney for the State of Arizona. Endorsed Mr Obama early in the primary race and is a favourite for a Cabinet post.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine - Once tipped as a potential running mate for Mr Obama, Mr Kaine is a graduate of Harvard Law and during his gubernatorial campaign was known for his opposition to the death penalty.

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald – Known for heading the grand jury investigation into the Valerie Plame affair and prosecuting the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, Mr Fitzgerald is currently US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Congressman Artur Davis – a civil rights lawyer from Alabama, Mr Davis was the first congressman outside Illinois to endorse Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee. However he recently told the Birmingham News that he does not expect to be offered the post and would anyway decline it.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick – a long-standing Obama ally who came to international attention during the row over the Democrat’s “Just Words” primary speech, which borrowed heavily from one of his own campaign addresses – apparently at his suggestion. Serves as an Assistant Attorney General under Bill Clinton.

Former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder – A senior legal adviser to Mr Obama’s presidential campaign, he became the first African Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton. Attracted controversy in the role for recommending the pardon of fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

Top of the agenda: what to do with the Guantanamo Bay camp for terror suspects.

Homeland Security Secretary

In the frame:
Former Congressman Tim Roemer – Currently president of the Center for National Policy, a national security thinktank. During a lengthy Senate career, served on the Intelligence Committee and the 9/11 Commission and was an original sponsor of the creation of the Office of Homeland Security, though he later came to oppose some of President Bush’s security measures.

Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt – A Clintonite who headed the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services when Bill Clinton was governor and who was taken to Washington upon his election as president. Coordinated reconstruction efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Congresswoman Jane Harman – The former minority leader on the House Intelligence Committee, Ms Harman is being considered due to her experience in intelligence matters. A conservative Democrat who once described herself as “the best Republican in the Democratic Party”, she was criticised by liberals for supporting the NSA warrantless wiretapping programme.

Former Republican New Jersey Governor Tom Kean - Best known for heading the 9/11 Commission, Mr Kean has had a long involvement with security and foreign policy organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and worked closely with both President Bushes and President Clinton.

Top of the agenda: preventing future terrorist attacks; upgrading first responder infrastructure; reforming FEMA

Education Secretary

In the frame:

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius – Has been linked to a number of Cabinet posts but energy, health and education (see below) are considered most likely. A well-respected Democrat once tipped to run in 2008 and later considered a potential running mate for Mr Obama. Considered one of the most powerful governors in America, she was the respondent to President Bush’s State of the Union Address in 2008.

Washington DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee – Founder of the New Teacher Project which helps recruit teachers for schools in needy areas, Ms Rhee has also served on several education advisory boards and enjoyed a close working relationship with First Lady Laura Bush.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell – as above.

JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy – an early backer of Barack Obama who has described him as her father’s political heir. Ms Kennedy is an attorney by profession but has long been involved with educational charities. President of the Kennedy Library Association.

Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt - With a long history of involvement in educational initiatives, Mr Hunt was tipped as education secretary in prospective Gore and Kerry administrations.

Top of agenda: reforming Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy; implementing $18-a-year education plan including tax credits for university students.

Health Secretary

In the frame:

Former Senator Tom Daschle – as above.

Former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean – One of Mr Obama’s most vocal supporters, Mr Dean, a doctor, focused heavily on healthcare during his 2004 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius – as above

Top of agenda: working out how far and how fast to implement $60 billion-a-year plan to give healthcare to 46 million uninsured Americans

Energy Secretary

In the frame:

Former Congressman Philip Sharp – After representing Indiana for two decades, Mr Sharp was director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics before going on to his current role as president of non-partisan thinktank Resources for the Future

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius – as above

Senator Jeff Bingaman – Focused heavily on environmental issues when New Mexico Attorney General. Currently working on a cap and trade bill for greenhouse emissions.

California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - A selection which would also promote bipartisanship, the former action hero is a liberal Republican renowned for leading efforts against global warming in his state.

Top of agenda: Implementing $15 billion-a-year energy independence plan which is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent over next 42 years.

National Security Adviser

In the frame:

Foreign policy aides Greg Craig and Susan Rice, as well as Jim Steinberg - all of whom worked for Bill Clinton. Mr Steinberg was a former deputy to the role while Mr Craig served in the State Department. Ms Rice served on the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Top of agenda: watching Mr Obama's back over an issue on which he has little experience.

Posted at 07:24 PM in Barack Obama | Permalin

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