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Richardson Promises Cabinet Preview

By PHILIP ELLIOTT
The Associated Press
Saturday, July 28, 2007; 2:59 PM

HANOVER, N.H. -- Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson told union members on Saturday he would give voters a preview of his Cabinet before voters pick the next president.

"I would announce my Cabinet before the election. If I'm the nominee, I would tell you who my team would be," the New Mexico governor told a Service Employees International Union conference at Dartmouth College.

"It would have independents, Republicans and Democrats. Don't worry, I won't overdo the Republicans," Richardson said, drawing laughter. "It would be taken from America, not from the Beltway."

Richardson's comments came as he courted union members during a three-day campaign trip to New Hampshire. Richardson, who is ranked third in state polls, repeated his pledges to SEIU members that he would give unions greater clout.

He said he'll choose a union member as his labor secretary, and a teacher for education secretary.

But first Richardson, a former energy secretary and U.N. ambassador during the Clinton administration, must win his party's nomination. He acknowledged it will be a tough fight against Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, but said that doesn't mean he can't win.

"Give me chance. I'm out there hustling. I'm out there working," he said. "I don't come in, swoop in, see a thousand people and leave."

After the speech, Richardson told The Associated Press his pre-election Cabinet picks wouldn't be final.

"The position would not be offered. There's a recognition that you eventually have to vet. But I would cite these are the people that I would name," he said in a brief interview on the way to a street fair. "We can't get bogged down by technicality. My vetting would be sooner."

He said he recognized the challenges with such public announcements, given the nation's history of Cabinet nominations later withdrawn in the face of embarrassing details or scandal.

"There's vetting problems after the election; that's not going to slow me down," he said.

© 2007 The Associated Press