- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2008

CHICAGO | As Barack Obama bid farewell to the Senate, the president-elect kept his attention on building a White House team, announcing the hiring of more key personnel.

Mr. Obama, who resigned his Senate seat on Sunday, said in a letter published in Illinois newspapers that he was “ending one journey to begin another. … But I will never forget and will be forever grateful to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.”

Shifting to assembling his staff, Mr. Obama added veterans from his campaign and Senate office to his incoming White House operations:

cPete Rouse, senior adviser. He was Mr. Obama’s Senate chief of staff, a post he also held while working for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois .

cMona Sutphen, deputy chief of staff. A member of Mr. Obama’s transition team , she has been managing director of Stonebridge International, a strategic consulting firm based in the District. The chief of staff is Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois . Ms. Sutphen also was a foreign service officer and worked on the National Security Council in the Clinton White House.

cJim Messina, deputy chief of staff. He is now director of personnel for Mr. Obama’s transition team and was national chief of staff during the presidential campaign.

Other staff positions expected to be announced soon could include the likely appointments of campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary; chief strategist David Axelrod as a top White House adviser; and Gregory Craig, President Clinton’s impeachment trial lawyer, as White House counsel.

Meanwhile, speculation continues about last week’s meeting between Mr. Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the prospects of her becoming his secretary of state, something the Senate’s second-ranking Republican says wouldn’t be a bad idea.

“It seems to me she’s got the experience. She’s got the temperament for it. I think she would be well-received around the world,” said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. “So my own initial reaction is it would be a very good selection.”

Both Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama’s fiercest rival for the presidential nomination, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also ran for the White House this year, interviewed with Mr. Obama in Chicago for the post, according to Democratic officials.

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, said he did not think Mrs. Clinton, if nominated, would have trouble winning confirmation in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“She’s worked across the aisle, has good bipartisan relationships,” Mr. Dorgan said. In the role of chief U.S. diplomat, Mrs. Clinton “would have instant credibility around the world,” he added.

He said the U.S. has “a lot of relationships to repair and a lot of work to do, so I think she’d be a fine choice.”

Mr. Kyl and Mr. Dorgan appeared on “Fox News Sunday.”

At a symposium organized by the National Bank of Kuwait, former President Bill Clinton said, “If he decided to ask her to do it and they did it together, I think she would be really great at being secretary of state.”

Mr. Richardson has extensive foreign policy experience. He was Mr. Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and has conducted freelance diplomacy for the U.S. in Sudan, North Korea and elsewhere.

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