The Next Administration: Obama

(By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

If he is elected to the presidency, Sen. Barack Obama and his advisers have promised to bring bipartisanship and experience to his administration.

Advisers suggest that among those who would be considered for Cabinet-level positions are two Republicans, Sens. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.).

A leading candidate for White House chief of staff is Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), the former Senate majority leader, but there could be dark horse candidates, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a close Obama adviser who worked for President Clinton.

Several advisers to Obama also said the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), could be on the shortlist to become secretary of state.

Obama has already turned to veterans of the Clinton White House for guidance, tasking former chief of staff John Podesta, now head of a prominent liberal think tank, to coordinate his preliminary transition efforts. Leading the effort to decide personnel on the transition is Cassandra Q. Butts, a law school friend of Obama's and an associate at Podesta's Center for American Progress.

As he prepares to try and end the war in Iraq and shift the military's emphasis to Afghanistan, Obama would have to quickly fill the top Pentagon job, either by leaving the current defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, in place, as some Obama allies have advocated, or by choosing a new one, such as Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), co-author of the Senate Democrats' Iraq withdrawal plan.

In addition to defense, the top three Cabinet positions that advisers said are a priority are attorney general, secretary of state and, perhaps most pressing, Treasury secretary.

Obama already consults with a core group of economic and financial advisers, some of whom could become fixtures in his administration. The group consists of former Treasury secretaries Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers, former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker and Michael Froman, who was Rubin's chief of staff at Treasury. Summers's name has surfaced as a contender for his former post, and Froman could also join the White House team, officials familiar with transition talks said. Another contender for the Treasury job is Timothy F. Geithner, the Federal Reserve Bank president in New York who worked under Rubin and Summers.

Other names in the mix for an Obama administration would include Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and former deputy attorney general Eric Holder as candidates for attorney general; a pair of former National Security Council members, Susan E. Rice and James B. Steinberg, as candidates for national security adviser; and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for a yet-to-be-determined Cabinet post.

-- Anne E. Kornblut and Shailagh Murray

© 2008 The Washington Post Company