November 20th, 2008
08:00 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama poised to rebrand America, experts say

People in Kisumu, Kenya, celebrate the election of Barack Obama.
People in Kisumu, Kenya, celebrate the election of Barack Obama.

(CNN) – President-elect Barack Obama is poised to restore the United States' image in the international community, but experts say the president-elect must show the world that his actions will live up to his rhetoric.

Receiving a warm welcome is not the same as maintaining one, and Obama has a lot of work to do to improve the U.S. brand.

America's image has declined in nearly every region of the world in recent years, but Obama's victory "enables the United States to start again with a clean slate," according to John Quelch, the senior associate dean at Harvard Business School.

"Americans can actually go to dinner parties and cocktail receptions around the world today and not have to apologize for the United States the way they have had to do the last several years," he said. "The election has made life a little bit easier for Americans living and traveling abroad to hold their head up high again."

The United States' tarnished reputation has been fueled by a combination of factors, including opposition to U.S. policies like the invasion of Iraq and alleged torture and abuse of prisoners, the perception of hypocrisy, unilateralism, lack of contact with Americans and the perceived war on Islam, according to a congressional report released last summer.

Full story

November 19th, 2008
03:35 PM ET
6 years ago

Some Pentagon workers 'burrowing' in to avoid the axe

WASHINGTON (CNN) - At the Pentagon they call it “burrowing”.

Political appointees– typically low level - are scrambling to hold onto their positions in the next administration by getting their job description changed from “political” to “career civil service”.

Political appointees serve at the pleasure of president, while career civil servants are hired on merit, and are supposed to be non-ideologues who serve any administration.

There have been accusations leveled at the White House that the appointees of doing so to further the Bush administration agenda, which the White House denies. But here in the halls of the Pentagon they see another motive. Already there’s some grousing from long-time Pentagon staffers who see relative newcomers angling to keep their plum jobs.

“It’s a lot of 20-something who have jobs where they get someone coffee”, harps one veteran of several transitions.

“I know two people in political jobs who are bragging they will be staying,” the staffer told CNN on condition of anonymity.

FULL POST


Filed under: Pentagon • Transition 2008
November 19th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Source: Bill Clinton agrees to vetting

Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton has agreed to several concessions in Hillary Clinton’s vetting for Secretary of State.
Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton has agreed to several concessions in Hillary Clinton’s vetting for Secretary of State.

(CNN) –- A major obstacle in Hillary Clinton’s path to becoming President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state may be out of the way, as former President Bill Clinton has made several concessions to help move his wife’s vetting process along.

A source familiar with the discussions between Sen. Clinton and the president-elect confirms to CNN that the former president will release the names of several major donors to the Clinton Foundation as well as submitting future foundation activities and paid speeches to a strict ethics review.

In addition, the former president is offering to step down from his day-to-day responsibilities at the foundation and inform the State Department of his speaking schedule and any new sources of income.

President Clinton’s international and financial dealings with his foundation and presidential library have been a sticking point with an Obama camp worried that Sen. Clinton’s position in the cabinet could create a potential conflict of interest as the country’s top diplomat.

November 19th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
6 years ago

At the Pentagon: It's easy to spot the newbies

,
There are some new faces at the Pentagon.
There are some new faces at the Pentagon.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just when we thought it would be hard to tell the faceless bureaucrats in the Obama transition office from other the 24,000 faceless bureaucrats who already work in this building, the Pentagon Pass office made it simple.

The new arrivals have been issued “Purple” badges, which make then stick out like a sore thumb.

Most pentagon badges are white. Contractors get pink.

And the press badges are blue.

Perhaps that will help the purple badge people know to shut up when they see someone with a blue badge.

The transition team –we’ve been told - is under strict order not to talk to news reporters.


Filed under: Pentagon • Transition 2008
November 19th, 2008
09:31 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama's staff picks cause critics to question his call for change

Obama's staff picks have critics questioning his call for change.
Obama's staff picks have critics questioning his call for change.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Barack Obama pledged to bring "fundamental change to Washington" as he campaigned for the White House, but as the president-elect fills out his administration, critics say they're just seeing more of the same.

More than half of the people named to Obama's transition or staff posts have ties to former president Bill Clinton's administration.

The Clinton-heavy team has caused some Republicans to question Obama's call for change.

"I think several individuals are very frustrated to think that President-elect Obama may just cut and paste from some of the Democratic operatives from the Clinton administration and put them into his White House," said Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor.

Republicans aren't the only ones who want Obama to branch out. Robert Kuttner, a liberal and author of "Obama's Challenge" says the President-elect should broaden his recruiting efforts.

"It's not as if the only competent people who ever served in government or who are capable of serving in government are veterans of the Clinton administration, so he's got to be careful how many Clintonistas he appoints to top level government posts," he said.

Before Clinton, however, Democrats had not been in the White House since Jimmy Carter, and most of those in his administration are too old to serve again under Obama.

FULL POST

November 19th, 2008
08:46 AM ET
6 years ago

Can Lincoln's playbook help Obama in the years ahead?

Barack Obama and Joe Biden attend a rally in front of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden attend a rally in front of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The comparisons are eerily similar.

Both Abraham Lincoln and President-elect Barack Obama were not from Illinois but became two of the state's top politicians.

They were both criticized for being too inexperienced to become president of the United States.

Both were raised by women other than their mothers (Lincoln by his stepmother and Obama by his grandmother) and later visited the women before their respective inaugurations. Both women died before the respective inauguration days.

Lincoln, a Republican, and Obama, a Democrat, will be noted as relatively young presidents: Lincoln was 51 when he took office. Obama will be 47.

The two tall and lanky politicians also wrote best-selling books before becoming president.

Full story

November 18th, 2008
04:46 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN's Short List: Potential Obama successors

It is still unknown who will replace Obama in the Senate.
It is still unknown who will replace Obama in the Senate.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President-Elect Barack Obama resigned from the Senate earlier this week setting off a mad scramble to fill the two remaining years of his six-year term representing Illinois.

More than half a dozen people ranging from state lawmakers to current congressmen have been mentioned as potential successors to Obama. But it will not be the future commander-in-chief who will choose the next Illinois senator. Instead, that power rests in the hands of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat. Blagojevich has maintained his decision will not be made in haste, and he wants “to ensure that Obama’s successor will understand and fight for the needs of average Illinoisans.”

There is no clear successor in the wings and in the old school politics that shape the Illinois and Chicago landscape, Blagojevich will likely weigh several factors as he makes this decision notwithstanding his own possible re-election in 2010.

Candidates likely being considered for the open Senate seat:

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis
Illinois Dept. of Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr.
Illinois Attorney Gen. Lisa Madigan
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky

November 18th, 2008
11:25 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama still fundraising even after taking in hundreds of millions

Money donated to support Obama's campaign can't be used for the transition or the inauguration so President-elect Obama is still fundraising.
Money donated to support Obama's campaign can't be used for the transition or the inauguration so President-elect Obama is still fundraising.

(CNN) - After raising a staggering amount of money for the general election, President-elect Barack Obama must now rake in more cash for his transition and inauguration.

There is about $9.74 million of taxpayer funds available to pay for the transition, but experts say that's not enough.

To make up the difference, past presidents have turned to private money and corporate cash.

Obama's transition team, however, is taking pains to keep lobbyists out of his transition and forgo corporate cash.

John Podesta, the co-chair of Obama's transition team, has vowed to make this "the most open and transparent transition in history," but Obama has not explicitly outlined his intentions for the inauguration.

The transition team said an announcement will be made next week on how the event will be funded.

The Obama team will have to balance how to raise enough money without contradicting Obama's tough talk during the campaign against lobbyists.

FULL POST

November 17th, 2008
06:20 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama team meets with Rice, Defense officials

Condoleezza Rice met with members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team Monday.
Condoleezza Rice met with members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team met with key officials in the Defense and State Departments Monday, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice met with Tom Donilon and Wendy Sherman, Obama's State Department transition team leaders, and promised a smooth hand-over, according to State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood.

In the half hour meeting, held at Rice's request, Rice "expressed her desire to work closely with the team on a smooth and professional transition," Wood said.

Across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, Obama's Defense Department transition team leaders, John White and Michele Flournoy, made office calls to four senior officials and requested more meetings for later this week, senior Pentagon officials said.

White and Flournoy met with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition John Young and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper, according to senior Pentagon officials.

FULL POST

November 13th, 2008
09:32 AM ET
3 years ago

Klain tapped for Biden's chief of staff

Ron Klain will be Vice-President-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff according to a Democratic source.
Ron Klain will be Vice-President-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff according to a Democratic source.

(CNN) – Ron Klain, former chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore, has agreed to serve in the same post under Vice President-elect Joe Biden, a Democratic source involved in the transition tells CNN.

Klain also served as general counsel of Gore's Florida recount effort, and was recently portrayed by Kevin Spacey in an HBO movie about the event. Reached by CNN, Klain would not confirm or deny reports he had accepted the position, but the Democratic source said it was a "done deal."

Klain previously worked with Biden when he served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee in the early 1990's. At that time, Biden was chairman of the committee.

Klain is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.

– CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and Martina Stewart contributed to this report

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