Obama starts assembling White House team

November 6th, 2008 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 6 (IANS) Putting aside a victory celebration, President-elect Barack Obama has started putting together a team that would help bring about the change he has promised when he takes over on Jan 20.Media reports citing Democratic sources said Rahm Emanuel, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representative, was seriously considering an offer to serve as White House chief of staff.

Long considered a front-runner for chief of staff if Obama won, Emanuel worked for President Bill Clinton. He was elected to a Chicago-area seat in 2002 and served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2006 election, in which Democrats moved back to the majority.

Through that tenure, Emanuel has built a reputation as one of the savviest political minds in the party and also one of the most confrontational. His tactics and approach earned him the name “Rahmbo,” the Washington Post said.

“In pursuing Emanuel, Obama is sending a message to Capitol Hill that he recognizes the need to work with them by selecting one of their own but that he also will not be afraid to play tough-Emanuel’s trademark,” it said.

The “Obama-Biden Transition Project” will be overseen by former White House chief of staff John D. Podesta; Obama friend and senior campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett; and Pete Rouse, Obama’s former Senate chief of staff and top campaign aide, officials said today. It will occupy offices in Washington and in a federal building in Chicago.

The transition co-chairs will work with an advisory board stacked with Clinton veterans and Obama and vice-president elect Joe Biden allies and confidants.

On the list: former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner; Obama friend and former Commerce Secretary William Daley, University of California-Berkeley law school dean Christopher Edley; Obama law school friends and advisers Michael Froman and Julius Genachowski; former Gore domestic policy adviser Donald Gips; Governor Janet Napolitano; former transportation secretary Federico Peña; Obama national security adviser Susan Rice and Sonal Shah of Google.org.

Mark Gitenstein and Ted Kaufman, old friends to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., will serve as co-chairs of his transition team.

The Obama team is also launching www.change.gov, a transition news Web site.

Obama is expected to continue operating out of Chicago for most of the transition, the Post said citing an Obama source familiar with the transition process. The goal is to move “quickly, but not hastily.”

The approach to appointments and other senior hires will be comprehensive, as opposed to ad hoc, which may mean that Obama will not name, say, a treasury secretary right away but will continues to rely in the short term on his current economic advisory team.

A game plan for moving forward will become clear by Friday, Obama sources ited by the Post said, and Cabinet announcements may start to trickle out next week.

The process of vetting and assembling a cabinet began well before Tuesday’s election, with staff members hinting at the potential for several “outside the box” picks for top jobs.

Aides will move quickly to begin monitoring the government’s various departments and agencies, obtain the necessary security clearances, and keep a close eye on any last-minute attempts by current administration officials to leave a mark on policy after President Georged Bush’s term ends, the Post said.

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