- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2008

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

Mrs. Clinton, former first lady and Mr. Obama’s top rival in the Democratic primaries, said she would not “speculate or address” anything about the 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.

“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.

The Associated Press, citing unidentified Democratic officials, reported Mr. Obama is also considering New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as secretary of state and that the two met Friday in Chicago.

Mr. Richardson, who was also Mr. Obama’s rival in the primaries, served as President Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and has conducted freelance diplomacy for the U.S. in such hot spots as Sudan and North Korea.

Earlier, Mrs. Clinton’s aides shrunk from inquires 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 on Thursday for a meeting with Mr. Obama, but neither the senator’s office nor the transition team would confirm it.

Mr. Clinton still takes an active role in international affairs, collecting big paychecks for speaking to foreign audiences and running the William J. Clinton Foundation, which controls tens of millions of dollars annually and works on contentious issues such as climate change. That could raise a conflict of interest if Mrs. Clinton had to advocate on those issues.

During the Democratic primaries, differences between Mrs. Clinton’s stances and foundation’s interests drew press scrutiny.

Another Democrat considered in the running for secretary of stateis 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.

Also Friday the Obama campaign announced the teams that will deploy to dozens of federal agencies over the next two months, evaluating performance and writing reports that will shape how the Obama administration staffs and overhauls those agencies.

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.

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