For 'explosive' start, Clinton must fill jobs quickly, aides say

November 06, 1992|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Staff Writer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Although he won't be inaugurated for 2 1/2 months, President-elect Bill Clinton has put pressure on himself to promptly name the "best and most able" people to serve in his administration.

He said during his campaign that he wanted to have the "most explosive" first 100 days in office since Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term. He promised fast action on a "jobs program, to introduce it the first day I was inaugurated."

But his aides say the first step he needs to take is to put people into their jobs as quickly as possible to prepare the necessary policies and legislation.

The most important initial appointment is considered the transition team leader, a person who will have great influence over decisions involving personnel, policy and legislation. While campaign chairman Mickey Kantor wants the job, other aides were lobbying this week for Eli J. Segal, the campaign chief of staff.

Clinton aides are saying that he will use the same deliberative procedure that produced the selection of Tennessee Sen. Al Gore as his running mate. That choice was very popular, but Mr. Clinton has been faulted as governor for indecisiveness in making appointments because of his yearning for consensus and his distaste for disappointing people.

Mr. Clinton never said during the campaign whom he would name, but he promised "a White House staff, a Cabinet and appointments that look like America," a metaphor for a representative mix of women and minorities. And Tuesday night, in his victory speech, he said he would name the "best and most able."

Mr. Kantor emphasized another criterion Wednesday, saying, "We're going to go beyond partisanship," a signal that Mr. Clinton would include Republicans and independents. Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot's expertise might also be tapped, Mr. Clinton has suggested, although not as a Cabinet secretary.

Despite the initial internal conflict over naming a transition chief, Mr. Clinton already has a long list of people in mind, including friends and advisers who in many cases were his classmates at Georgetown University, Yale University Law School or Oxford University in England, where he was a Rhodes scholar.

The candidates make up an ideological rainbow of liberals and moderates, fiscal conservatives and Keynesian economists. As a group, they reflect Mr. Clinton's eclectic policy-making style.

"He's an innovator, and he loves ideas," says University of Arkansas political scientist Cal Ledbetter Jr. "He has a vast network."

Beyond that circle, there are hundreds, even thousands, of job-seeking Democrats who have been shut out of the White House for 12 years. And scores of campaign workers believe they will land some of the 8,500 jobs Mr. Clinton will have the authority to fill.

Jockeying for top jobs began well before his victory. Some people are waging self-promotion campaigns, in some cases with the help of friends. The result is an endless flurry of often wild speculation in the news media.

"I've seen a lot of that going on," says one Democratic insider, citing talk that Ronald H. Brown, head of the Democratic National Committee, was a candidate for secretary of state.

"That was coming out of the DNC staff and from Ron's friends in organized labor, and it was very clear it had organized direction," this source said.

Here are some of the best bets:

* White House: Mr. Kantor, a Los Angeles lawyer, lobbyist and longtime friend of Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary, is a candidate for chief of staff. Richard W. Riley, former governor of South Carolina, also has been mentioned, as has Warren Christopher, who was a deputy secretary of state in the Carter administration.

Clinton communications director George Stephanopoulos might get the same job in the administration. Another campaign adviser assuredof a job is Bruce Reed, Mr. Clinton's 32-year-old policy director, who held a senior position at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, of which Mr. Clinton is a former chairman.

Paul Begala, a senior campaign adviser, could get an administration job if he doesn't want to return to more lucrative political consulting.

Other campaign aides likely to be considered are Mark D. Gearan, a Gore aide and former executive director of the Democratic Governors' Association, Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers and Mandy Grunwald, a campaign media adviser.

* Treasury Department: Investment banker Roger Altman, Wall Street executive Robert E. Rubin and Paul A. Volcker, former Federal Reserve Board chairman, are on most observers' short lists for Treasury secretary.

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