Duckworth a Leading Contender for VA Secretary

Copyright 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008; 7:10 PM

By Philip Rucker Those searching for tea leaves about Barack Obama's favored picks for his Cabinet should look no further than the president-elect's Veterans' Day photo op. Joining Obama at a wreath-laying ceremony in Chicago was Tammy Duckworth, a former National Guard helicopter pilot who lost both legs in combat in Iraq and now directs the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006, has surfaced as the leading contender for secretary of Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs, several veterans advocates said. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Rahm Emanuel recruited her for the '06 race for Henry Hyde's seat and Obama did an ad for her. She lost to Peter Roskam. "Tammy is an incredibly inspiring leader and she has the potential to be our generation's Max Cleland," said Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "She's been innovative, empathetic, intelligent,

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