As Obama’s cabinet takes shape, Clinton saga continues

November 22nd, 2008 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 22 (IANS) US President-elect Barack Obama is reported to be closing in on his picks for key posts to deal with America’s worst financial crisis in decades and shore up its image abroad - an area where New York Senator Hillary Clinton may play a major role if she agrees to become secretary of state.The New York Times reported Friday that Clinton would give up her Senate seat and accept the position of America’s top diploamt. It cited two confidants who said the decision was made after further consultation with Obama about the nature of her role and his foreign policy plans.

But the Clinton camp shot down media reports that claimed the former first lady had already agreed to accept the secretary of state position.

“We’re still in discussions, which are very much on track,” said Philippe Reines, Clinton’s senior adviser. “Any reports beyond that are premature.”

CNN cited a senior Obama aide as saying there has been no development on a possible Clinton appointment since they informed Thursday she is “on track” to be nominated for the post.

Citing two sources close to Obama’s transition team, CNN also reported Friday that New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner is “on track” to be offered the treasury secretary’s post.

Reports of Geithner’s likely appointment sent the stocks soaring with the Dow Jones industrial average closing up 494 points, a gain of 6.5 percent that was the fifth-biggest single-session point gain ever.

Geithner played a large role in the government’s efforts to combat the credit crisis, which has damaged markets and economies worldwide. While a number of those efforts have been controversial, Geithner remains a well-regarded figure from Wall Street to Washington.

Geithner began working with the Treasury Department in 1988 in the International Affairs division. In 1999 he became under secretary of the treasury for international affairs.

Geithner would be charged with restoring stability to the financial markets, the banking system and the housing sector through oversight of the controversial $700 billion financial rescue package, of which about half is still available for use at the discretion of the treasury secretary.

Meanwhile, other media reports citing sources close to the transition team also said Friday that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is a serious contender for the post of commerce secretary, but he could be tapped for another senior post.

CNN also cited sources as saying that they do not consider Richardson’s appointment to the Commerce Department to be a done deal and he is still considered to be a possibility for the secretary of state post.

Richardson, 61, was a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Currently in his second term as New Mexico’s governor, he previously served as ambassador to the UN and energy secretary in the Clinton administration.

Obama’s transition team also appears close to choosing a national security adviser to the White House with retired Marine General Jim Jones emerging as the president-elect’s leading choice for the position, media reports said.

Among his many posts, Jones served for several years as the operational commander for NATO.

A Democratic official was cited as saying that former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle will serve as health and human Services secretary, and be charged with the formidable task of pushing through healthcare reform.

Reports also indicated that Arizona governor Janet Napolitano will serve as secretary for homeland security.

There is also speculation that President George W. Bush’s Defence Secretary Robert Gates will be asked to stay on at the Pentagon, and former Justice Department official Eric Holder is in line to be the first black attorney general.

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