Obama turns to friends and foes for top posts

WASHINGTON — President-elect Obama plans to announce six experienced hands to fill top administration posts today, moving at record speed to name the leadership team that will guide his presidency through a time of war and recession.

His selections include longtime advisers and political foes alike, most notably Democratic primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state and President Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, staying in his current post.

The two are among six selections whom Obama plans to announce at a news conference in Chicago, Democratic officials said.

Obama plans to name Washington lawyer Eric Holder as attorney general and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary. He also plans to announce two senior foreign policy positions outside the Cabinet: campaign foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador and retired Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser.

The names had been discussed before for the jobs, but Democratic officials confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that Obama will make them official today in his hometown.

Obama also has settled on former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to be secretary of Health and Human Services and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary, though those announcements are not yet official.

Last week, he named key members of his economic team, including Timothy Geithner, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as Treasury secretary.

The decisions mean Obama has half of his Cabinet assembled less than a month after the election, including the most prominent positions at State, Justice, Treasury and Defense.

The team so far shares deep experience and proven ability to get things done, and it shares some characteristics with Bush's first Cabinet choices.

For secretary of state, both went with big names who campaigned against them in their primary races, with Obama choosing Clinton and Bush going with former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell.

At Health and Human Services, both chose deeply experienced elected officials — Obama picking Daschle and Bush choosing Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.

They also chose experienced Defense secretaries who had already served in the position — Gates for Obama and Donald Rumsfeld for Bush.

Biden taps advisers

Vice President-elect Joe Biden said Sunday he had chosen a close adviser of more than 25 years as his counselor and had picked two other longtime political advisers for key posts in his office.

Michael C. Donilon, who was part of Biden's debate preparation team and was his traveling adviser during the general-election campaign, was named counselor to the vice president. Donilon has worked as a strategist on numerous political campaigns, including Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992.

Terrell McSweeny will be domestic policy adviser to the vice president, according to a statement from Biden's office. She worked as Biden's deputy chief of staff and policy director in the Senate.

Evan Ryan will be assistant to the vice president for intergovernmental affairs and public liaison. She was an adviser to Biden during the general election campaign and was his deputy campaign manager during the primary.

Clinton concessions

To make it possible for his wife to become secretary of state, party officials said, former President Bill Clinton agreed to:

• Disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997 and all contributors going forward.

• Refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference.

• Cease holding CGI meetings overseas.

• Volunteer to step away from day-to-day management of the foundation while his wife is secretary of state.

• Submit his speaking schedule to review by the State Department and White House counsel.

• Submit any new sources of income to a similar ethical review.

Obama turns to friends and foes for top posts 11/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:45pm]

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