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Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack: Cabinet-bound?
Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack: Cabinet-bound? (By Haraz N. Ghanbari -- Associated Press)
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Cc: Priya Singh

Subject: . . . Reminder -- Decline All Reporter Interviews and Speaking Requests.

This is a reminder that our communications department has directed all of you, as policy committee members, to decline all requests from reporters and all speaking invitations regarding the transition, the Administration's priorities and related issues. If you are contacted by a reporter to discuss these matters, please refer the reporter to Priya Singh. . . . If you receive an invitation to speak on these issues at a conference or meeting, please decline the request. At this point in time, there is no one to whom to refer the request and do not offer to do so on behalf of the organization extending you the invitation. We realize these requirements may appear Draconian but so soon after the election, with the transition effort just being organized, it is important that no one who was involved with the campaign and the policy committees be speculating in public on these sensitive matters.

Doesn't appear draconian at all. We're quite used to it.

Vilsack to Agriculture Department?

The Obama transition team considers former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack a near shoo-in for secretary of agriculture, according to a source close to the transition. Vilsack, who dropped out of the presidential race last year after a short-lived bid, was an early backer of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. But during the general election, he campaigned hard for Obama in Iowa.

Vilsack is well-liked by both environmentalists and food industry leaders, the source said. In a sign that he is actively seeking the job, Vilsack has written opinion articles in recent weeks about agriculture policy, linking farming to energy independence and national security.

Should things not work out with Vilsack, Obama might turn to Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Defense: More Clinton Influence

Word in the military-industrial complex is that the Defense Transition Team includes several senior-level Clintonites, including Michelle Flournoy, who had been principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction; Kurt Campbell, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific and also on the National Security Council staff, and Bill Lynn, former undersecretary of defense (comptroller).

Some of the names floating in the private sector for deputy secretary of defense include the oft-mentioned former Navy secretary Richard Danzig; former undersecretaries of defense for acquisition Jack Gansler and Paul Kaminski, and Lynn. The key undersecretary for policy -- the job most famously held of late by Douglas Feith, could go to Flournoy or Campbell.

Meanwhile, students of Kremlinology, who used to carefully study who was closest to the top leader on the podium in Red Square reviewing the troops on May Day, are now thinking former deputy national security adviser James Steinberg may have the inside track to be Obama's national security adviser. The evidence? Steinberg appeared on television walking right by the president-elect and transition chief John Podesta Thursday after the motorcade pulled to a halt in Chicago.

State: Still on the Way

The Obama transition team leaders for Foggy Bottom haven't shown up yet to occupy a fine area that's been set up for them. But word is the team, said to be headed by former secretary of state Warren Christopher, his chief of staff, Tom Donilon, and Wendy Sherman, counselor to former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, should be showing up soon.

Let's Hear From You

Reminder: If you've got news and tips on who may be getting jobs in the new administration, send them to: Any news on where Bush administration folks are headed, send them to:

With Philip Rucker

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