- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sidestepped Friday reports she is in line for a Cabinet post in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration.

A former rival for the presidential nomination, Bill Richardson, is also being considered for the job, the Associated Press reported Friday based on comments from Democratic officials.

The officials said Obama met with Richardson Friday in Chicago, a day after meeting with Clinton.

Richardson is the governor of New Mexico and has an extensive foreign policy resume. He was President Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and has conducted freelance diplomacy as governor in such hot spots as Sudan and North Korea.

Both meetings were at Obama’s transition office in Chicago and kept secret until after they were over.

Mrs. Clinton, former first lady and Mr. Obama’s top primary rival, said she would not “speculate or address” anything about administration being put together by Mr. Obama — including widespread talk among Democratic officials that she is a leading candidate for secretary of state.

“I’m going to respect his process,” Mrs. Clinton said at the outset of a speech in Albany, N.Y.

Mrs. Clinton of New York reportedly met Thursday with Mr. Obama in Chicago to discuss a possible role for her in the next administration, likely secretary of state.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet Monday with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee who Mr. Obama bested on Election Day. The president-elect’s transition office said the talks would focus on cooperation between the former foes in tackling the many challenges facing the country.

“It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality,” Obama spokesman Stephanie Cutter said.

Earlier, Mrs. Clinton’s aides shrunk from inquires about the reports about her possible nomination for a Cabinet post and directed questions to the Obama transition team, which remained mum.

“Any speculation about Cabinet or other administration appointments is for President-elect Obama’s transition team to address,” Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said.

Several news organizations, including the Associated Press and NBC News, cited anonymous Democratic officials close to the campaign saying Mrs. Clinton was a leading contender to run the State Department. Democratic officials said Mrs. Clinton traveled to Chicago Thursday for a meeting with Mr. Obama, but neither the senator’s office nor the transition team would confirm it.

Mrs. Clinton did not have any events on her public schedule Thursday. She was scheduled to deliver the speech Friday in Albany, N.Y.

Other Democrats considered in the running for secretary of state include Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party’s 2004 presidential nominee.

Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska also is named a possible candidate for the job.

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