Clinton expected to announce first top appointments today

December 10, 1992|By Boston Globe

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- President-elect Bill Clinton wa expected today to announce his first slate of top appointees without including any minorities and perhaps only one woman, transition officials say.

But sources said Mr. Clinton was seriously considering naming Gen. Colin Powell, a black who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to be secretary of state.

The possibility that General Powell would be named came amid concern by aides to Mr. Clinton that his first Cabinet appointments would not include any minorities despite a pledge that the Cabinet would "look like America."

Sources said they were unsure whether General Powell would be interested in leaving his top military post. Also, the general has differed with Mr. Clinton's views that gays should be allowed to ++ serve in the military and that a further reduction in armed forces is necessary. But sources said neither disagreement would be a problem if the general were to become secretary of state.

Mr. Clinton, who met with General Powell two weeks ago, has said the nation's highest black military official is qualified for any job, including the presidency.

All the appointments to be announced today were expected to be to economic posts, contrary to speculation that Mr. Clinton also would name appointees to other positions, to expand the number of women and minorities.

The sources said the woman likely to be named to a top post today is Alice Rivlin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office. But four other top economic posts were expected to go to white males, the sources said. They include Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as treasury secretary and Rep. Leon Panetta as budget director.

Although Harvard professor Robert Reich was not expected to be given a post today, he still is likely to receive a top assignment, sources said. The two other top economic appointments to be made today are expected to be investment banker Roger Altman as deputy treasury secretary and Goldman Sachs co-chairman Robert Rubin to head the new Economic Security Council.

Contrary to some reports, sources said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin was not expected to be named today as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, although she still is considered likely to get the post. Wisconsin educator Donna Shalala is said to be in line to be named secretary of either Health and Human Services or Education.

One source close to Mr. Clinton said he was disappointed that the first round of recommended appointments apparently would include no blacks or Hispanics, but the source stressed that they would be included in later announcements. But from a public relations point of view, the first selections are likely to receive the most attention and the absence of minorities is not likely to go over well.

It was not clear, as of last night, whether Mr. Clinton would expand today's announcement to include four or six top appointments, with the higher number being urged by some aides who are concerned that the expected four top economic positions would be filled by four white males.

A variety of sources said Mr. Clinton would announce several other appointments perhaps as early as next week, with some saying that the head of the Chicago Housing Authority, Vince Lane, may be in line to be secretary of housing and urban development and that Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., would be energy secretary. Hispanic groups, among others, have been pushing Rep. Bill Richardson as a candidate for secretary of the interior.

Compared with recent past presidents, Mr. Clinton was taking his time on shaping his team.

Presidents-elect Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon had named their entire Cabinets by now -- 37 days after the election -- and John Kennedy was almost finished. Jimmy Carter completed his Cabinet search just before Christmas 1976, while Ronald Reagan didn't finish until a week into 1981.

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