FACTBOX - Obama's cabinet begins to take shape


  • World
  • Friday, 21 Nov 2008

MYT 3:32:28 PM

REUTERS - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet is beginning to take shape.

While certain key positions -- notably Treasury secretary -- remain open races, names have emerged for a number of important jobs.

President-elect Barack Obama seen during a meeting in Obama's transition office in Chicago in this November 17, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/John Gress)

Here are people Obama has reportedly chosen or is considering for Cabinet posts. Most remain subject to vetting and all must be confirmed by the Senate before taking office.

CONFIRMED APPOINTMENTS

SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

* Tom Daschle, a key early supporter and savvy former U.S. Senate leader, was selected by Obama as secretary of health and human services, according to Democratic sources. In that role, he will be the top official spearheading Obama's effort to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system. The high-profile pick signals that the push to extend health coverage to the 46 million uninsured Americans be a high priority for Obama.

LEADING CANDIDATES

SECRETARY OF STATE

* Hillary Clinton, the New York senator and Obama's former rival for the White House, is on track to be named secretary of state. Obama is said to be intrigued by the idea of creating a "team of rivals" in his government that would be modeled after that former President Abraham Lincoln.

One possible obstacle has been the post-White House work of Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton. He is said to be trying to address questions about whether his global philanthropic and business activities would create conflicts of interest if his wife got the job.

A Democratic source said the former first lady was on track to get the job and that financial disclosure issues had been ironed out.

* If no deal is reached, other possible candidates are believed to include New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER

* Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, the former top operational commander of NATO, is a leading contender for White House national security adviser.

Jones is widely respected by both Democrats and Republicans but has avoided aligning himself with either party.

He is known to have been a strong critic of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and is quoted as describing the war as a "debacle," in Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward's 2006 book "State of Denial."

* James Steinberg, who was deputy national security adviser in Bill Clinton's administration, was also said to be under consideration.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

* Eric Holder, a former Justice Department official under the Clinton Administration, has accepted a conditional offer to become head of the Justice Department, Democratic officials said.

Holder, who served as deputy attorney general under Clinton, has been a senior legal advisor to Obama's campaign and helped vet Obama's vice presidential candidates. Before the offer becomes official, Obama's team is seeking to determine if Holder can win Senate confirmation with broad bipartisan support.

HOMELAND SECURITY

* Janet Napolitano, the Democratic governor of Arizona, is under consideration to head the U.S. Homeland Security Department, a sprawling agency formed to bolster civil defense following the Sept. 11 attacks.

"She's in the mix. She may be the front-runner," a Democratic official told Reuters.

Napolitano, 50, is a former U.S. attorney for Arizona and state attorney general, giving her law enforcement experience and is as governor of a state bordering Mexico, she also is closely involved in immigration issues which also come under the Homeland Security Department's purview.

OPEN RACES

TREASURY SECRETARY

Probably the most closely watched appointment in the new administration. The leading candidates are:

* Lawrence Summers, a former Clinton Treasury secretary and top adviser to Obama, has played a major role in shaping the president-elect's response to the financial crisis.

* Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, has helped to lead efforts to stabilize financial markets and argued that banks crucial to the global financial system should operate under a unified regulatory framework.

* Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chairman, broke the the back of the double-digit inflation in 1970s and 1980s and has advised Obama on his call for an overhaul of U.S. financial regulations.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

* Current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, named by President George W. Bush in late 2006, is considered a moderate voice on the Republican's national security team and could embody an important signal of continuity.

* Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, has been a foreign policy adviser to Obama and a strong critic of the Iraq war.

* Richard Danzig, an adviser to Obama on national security and Clinton-era Navy secretary, has been mentioned by many in the media as a possible defense secretary or deputy defense secretary.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY

* Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, is an attorney who specializes in energy conservation, renewable energy and agribusiness development.

* Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, re-elected to a second term in 2006, is a strong Obama supporter and had been considered a potential running mate for Obama.

* Charles Stenholm, a former Democratic congressman from Texas, might also be considered. He was a cotton producer before running for Congress. He followed agricultural issues closely until he lost his seat in the 2004 election.

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