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Obama to announce Clinton as secretary of state
Associated Press
2008-12-01 08:33 PM
President-elect Barack Obama on Monday plans to officially announce that Democratic primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton will be his secretary of state and name other appointees to top posts in his administration.

Obama is appearing at a morning news conference Monday in Chicago to announce Clinton's nomination as the top U.S. diplomat and say that President George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, is staying on.

Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones _ a former top commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Europe _ is to be Obama's national security adviser.

Democratic officials said Obama would name Washington lawyer Eric Holder as attorney general and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary. He also planned to announce two senior foreign policy positions outside the Cabinet: campaign foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador.

The Democratic officials disclosed the plans on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorized for public release ahead of the news conference. Those names had been discussed before for those jobs, but the officials confirmed that Obama will make them official Monday in his hometown.

Obama also has settled on former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to be his secretary of Health and Human Services and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be Commerce secretary, but those announcements are not yet official. Last week, he named key members of his economic team, including Timothy Geithner, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as Treasury secretary.

The decisions mean Obama has half of the 15-member Cabinet assembled less than a month after the election, including the most prominent positions at State, Justice, Treasury and Defense. Obama takes office on Jan. 20.

Obama's choice of Clinton was an extraordinary gesture of good will after a year in which the two rivals competed for the Democratic nomination in a long, bitter primary battle.

They clashed repeatedly on foreign affairs. Obama criticized Clinton, a fellow U.S. senator, for her vote to authorize the Iraq war. Clinton said Obama lacked the experience to be president and she chided him for saying he would meet with leaders of nations such as Iran and Cuba without conditions.

The bitterness began melting away in June after Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama. She went on to campaign for him in his general election contest against Republican Sen. John McCain.

Advisers said Obama had for several months envisioned Clinton as his top diplomat, and he invited her to Chicago to discuss the job just a week after the Nov. 4 election.

Clinton was said to be interested and then to waver, concerned about relinquishing the Senate seat she has held for nearly eight years and the political independence it conferred. Those concerns were largely resolved after Obama assured her she would be able to choose a staff and have direct access to him, advisers said.

The Obama team also reached a deal with Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, to make some concessions in his post-White House work to avoid conflicts of interest.

Some Democrats and government insiders have questioned whether Clinton is too independent and politically ambitious to serve Obama as secretary of state. But a senior Obama adviser has said the president-elect had been enthusiastic about naming Clinton to the position from the start, believing she would bring instant stature and credibility to U.S. diplomatic relations and the advantages to her serving far outweigh potential downsides.

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Associated Press Writer Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.

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