- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009

FIRST FAMIILY

Obama mother-in-law to live in White House

Get ready for the in-law in chief.

Transition officials said Friday that President-elect Barack Obama’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, is moving into the White House to join Michelle Obama and their two children.

It’s not clear whether the move will be permanent.

Katie McCormick Lelyveld, press secretary for Mrs. Obama, said Mrs. Robinson would decide in the coming months whether she wants to stay in Washington.

Mrs. Robinson retired from her job as a bank executive secretary to help with her granddaughters during the campaign.

FIRST GIFT

Congress gives Obama present

To Barack Obama, from Congress on behalf of the American people: One hand-cut, crystal bowl with an etching of his new home in Washington.

Mr. Obama will receive the present at a luncheon with members of Congress after the inauguration ceremony Jan. 20.

The $2,500 one-of-a-kind bowl weighs nearly 8 pounds and shows an image of the White House, with cherry trees on each side. As the bowl is rotated, the president’s residence can be seen through the trees.

Congress commissioned the bowl from Lenox Inc., which donated it as a gift — a favor permissible under a congressional resolution.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will receive a similar crystal bowl when he becomes vice president, only his will have an image of the Capitol, with blooming cherry trees.

The gifts took thousands of hours to make and were designed by glass cutter Timothy Carder using a combination of etching and hand cutting. The Obama bowl is 5 1/2 inches high and 9 inches in diameter and sits on a hand-cut base made of optical crystal engraved with Mr. Obama’s name and the date of his inauguration.

“The inauguration of a new president is one of the most solemn and ceremonial moments in our nation’s history,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “Lenox, a great American porcelain company, has once again created a beautiful gift that captures the beauty and dignity of this truly special occasion.”

The company also created the inaugural gifts for President Bush and former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT

Biden to quit seat in Senate next week

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced Friday afternoon that he was resigning his Senate seat as he prepares to be sworn in as vice president.

The resignation, which ends the Delaware Democrat’s 36-year career in the Senate, is effective Jan. 15.

The low-key notification came in the form of a message delivered to Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat who was the chamber’s presiding officer at the time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, was on the floor and called it a “sad but happy day” as Mr. Biden moves over to the executive branch.

Mr. Reid noted that while he and his colleagues will miss Mr. Biden, they will continue to deal with him often, in part because of the vice president’s constitutional role as president of the Senate.

Outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney swore in Mr. Biden for what was to have been the start of his seventh Senate term Tuesday. Mr. Biden will use the same Bible when he takes the oath of office for vice president on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 20.

President-elect Barack Obama resigned his seat in November, almost immediately after winning election.

Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado are expected to give up their seats shortly, after having accepted posts in Mr. Obama’s Cabinet.

Edward “Ted” Kaufman, a longtime Biden adviser and for a time his Senate chief of staff, has been named by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat, to succeed Mr. Biden.

SENATE

Governor: Caroline Kennedy lacks experience

New York Gov. David Paterson said for the first time Thursday that Caroline Kennedy’s lack of legislative experience is a “minus” to her qualifications as a possible appointee to the U.S. Senate.

But the governor, who will appoint a new senator if Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of state as expected, also said Ms. Kennedy has many positives despite never having held elective office.

“Caroline Kennedy obviously does have a tremendous relationship with [President-elect Barack Obama] that’s certainly a plus,” Mr. Paterson said Thursday. “She does not have much political, I mean, legislative experience, which is a minus.”

The Democratic governor said as many as 15 contenders are interested and he’s already spoken to or interviewed about 10.

He said Ms. Kennedy’s advantages include her name and contacts in Washington - including her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts - that could give her immediate clout, much like Mrs. Clinton’s as a former first lady.

Ms. Kennedy, a 51-year-old author and lawyer who famously guarded her privacy until December, gave a critical early endorsement to Mr. Obama during his campaign. Now, Mr. Paterson is lobbying Mr. Obama hard for an economic stimulus package to help New York out of a historic fiscal crisis.

Others said to be interested in the appointment include New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, and Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, Steve Israel, Jerrold Nadler, Kirsten Gillibrand and Brian Higgins.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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