February 15th, 2009
12:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Axelrod: Picking the Cabinet 'isn't like American Idol'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/15/art.axelrod0215.cnn.jpg caption="David Axelrod said Sunday that the White House is using a thoughtful procedure to fill outstanding Cabinet posts."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The man primarily responsible for crafting President Obama’s message during two years of a hard-fought presidential campaign said the potential nominees for Commerce Secretary and Secretary of Health and Human Services will be announced soon.

“Choosing Cabinet members isn’t like American Idol,” David Axelrod, a senior aide to the President, said Sunday. “You don’t throw contestants out there and let the American people vote. We’re going through a thoughtful procedure to fill these posts. We want to get it right.”

The President’s method for selecting Cabinet nominees has come under increasing scrutiny after several nominees revealed problems with taxes and after three prominent nominees – New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, and New Hampshire’s Republican Sen. Judd Gregg – all withdrew their names from consideration for Cabinet posts after being tapped by Obama.

Richardson and Gregg had both been nominees to head the Commerce Department and Obama had named Daschle to run HHS and to advise the president as the White House’s “health czar.”

Nancy Killefer, who had been chosen by Obama for a new post focused on making the federal government more efficient, also withdrew her name for further consideration because of tax issues.

Axelrod also told reporters Sunday that despite the White House’s challenges with Cabinet nominees in recent weeks, the President’s grassroots supporters are behind him.

“We’ve got 13 million supporters who are eager to be a part of the solution [to the nation’s problems],” Axelrod said about Organizing for America, the grassroots organization recently set up to maintain contact with supporters Obama amassed during his White House run.

“One of the compacts we made with our supporters during this campaign was that we were going to bring the American people back into the governance of their own country. And so we’re trying to keep them informed as to what we’re doing and what that organization is doing. And they were very actively supportive of this economic recovery plan and they’re going to be important as we move forward.”

Filed under: David Axelrod • Obama administration • OFA
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Andrea

    Thank goodness, our President has smart people. So what if 3 cabinet people dropped out because of issues. Things happen and people do not always tell the truth.

    That does not mean that our President is not doing a good job. I believe President Obama has done a superior job in picking his cabinet. News pundits can say whatever as they are trying to get high ratings to keep their jobs.

    February 15, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. D.Holiday OH

    Go Axelrod! Take'em to school.

    February 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    You threw it in the American peoples face now they have thrown it right back at you. You just realized that they aren't that dumb as you figured. Get yourself another job. You are all a bunch of misfits up there.

    February 15, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. The Truth

    Maybe the process should be like American Idol....that would be better than the way the Obumbler administration has handled it.

    February 15, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Obama Cares

    please don't choose any more under handed republicans, i think all republicans should receive a DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE from America, especially john mccain.

    February 15, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Robert Berman

    McCain voted for the first Tarp bill under President Bush without so much as a whimper, not asking how it would be administered and who would oversee the process. Now he has the gall to criticize the Stimulus Bill as soley wasteful spending. I predict that president obama's going to the American people directly will garner even more support for the package and should there be even a modicum of success in providing more jobs for the American people, Obama will have been vindicated. I thought the REPUBLICAN PARTY AND MCcAIN LOST THIS ELECTION BECAUSE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE REJECTED TAX CUTS AND THE TRACK RECORD OF THE REPUBLICANS IN BUILDING THIS ENORMOUS NATIONAL DEBT IN THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. ALL THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TO OIFFER IS MORE OF THE SAME TAX CUTS. AS THE PREIDENT SAID HOW CAN WE HAVE ANY CONFIDENCE IN THE POLICIES OF THE PARTY THAT BROUGHT US TO THIS SAD STATE IN THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. MC CAIN VOTED FOR EVERY LAST DOLLAR OIF WHAT WAS AND HAS BEEN SPENT IN iRAQ. aND NOW HYPOCRITE THAT HE S HE TALKS OF FISCAL DISCIPLINE. WOW

    February 15, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. John

    Yeah, you have to have real talent to be on Idol...all you have to do is have a slogan to be President or on his cabinet. It is far more difficult to be on Idol!

    February 15, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. daniel cabrera

    This presidential character did pick the worst people for his phony Clinton-clone cabinet. A lot of CORRUPTION there alright.

    And of course is an 'American Idol thing',....is s great theater now,...full of acorruption just like in Hollywood

    February 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. lalvey

    Joe Biden on the left and ALL of the right wing had better grow up. This president wants to work with adults, not play he said she said on the schoolyard.

    February 15, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Griff

    Burris! Will Burry any chance of "Black People," doing it again. Not only that, it makes more look like Cheats... It was bad enough with Barack Obama..

    February 15, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Larry Schlueter

    Waht a dork. Another liar like Obama. When will these unintelligent people start acting and talking like they have some knowledge????

    February 15, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. HB

    Go Obama!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Elaine

    Great job David, You are truly a loyal and dedicated Democrat that is really looking out for the interest of the president and this country. President Obama could not have choosen a more loyal person to cover his back.

    Keep up the good work and may God richest blessings be with you as you help to make our country and our world a better place

    February 15, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Ben

    You could have fooled me...I think picking names out of hat could yield more law abiding citizens...PATHETIC

    February 15, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. kate

    with all these people having problems seems the Pres. is to trusting with people. And maybe everyone in the House of Rep. as well as the Senate should be investiagted concerning their taxes. Who knows what might be found, and just the mention of doing it may send several of our elected officals into retirement. Which is where almost all of them need to go. Some are to old to handle new ideas and ways of doing things. Pres. should insist on a "house cleaning" of sorts. Who would have thought all thoes he chose had tax problems. I'm sure Pres. expected everyone to be as trust worthy as he is. I'm sure these are just things you take for granted.

    February 15, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Kent

    CNN: Ms Stewart needs a remedial course in the use of the apostrophe to indicate the possessive case. Journalists should be our nation's leaders in correct grammer.

    February 15, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  17. jean albert florida

    I hope you guys get this right this time. The president needs his full cabinet in order to get things done for the american people.

    February 16, 2009 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
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