Clinton taps Reno, Richardson, Daley Commerce, U.N. posts go to loyalists

December 14, 1996|By Carl M. Cannon | Carl M. Cannon,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton introduced more selections to his second-term team yesterday, a group that includes a member of a legendary Chicago political family as secretary of commerce and a Latino congressman as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

William M. Daley, a Democratic activist and close Clinton ally who had hoped to be named secretary of transportation, landed the job at commerce, while Rep. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was chosen as U.N. ambassador.

The president said he had also spoken with Attorney General Janet Reno and with Donna E. Shalala, secretary of health and human services, and Carol M. Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. "I have asked all of them to stay on in their current jobs," he said.

Reno's future, in particular, had been the subject of speculation for weeks because of apparent unhappiness in the White House over her requests for independent counsels to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the administration.

Loyalty seemed to be the theme of the day. The thread running through those lined up behind Clinton at yesterday's news conference was that all have done huge favors for the president and have stood by him.

Daley served as an unpaid adviser to the White House, coordinating Clinton's uphill and ultimately successful battle to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Richardson was Clinton's chief vote-counter and button-holer on Capitol Hill, rounding up votes at a time in late 1993 when most of the Democratic leadership in the House was siding with organized labor and defying the president.

Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and Franklin D. Raines, the budget director -- two men from the financial world who took big pay cuts to join Clinton's team in his first term -- were introduced yesterday as advisers who had agreed to stay on. Raines, on the job for only four months, has found himself in the cross-hairs of one constituency after another as word of proposed budget cuts hase been made public.

The president hailed Rubin as "the captain of our economic team," adding, "The Treasury Department has never been in better hands."

In a bit of a surprise, the president also elevated Gene Sperling to head the National Economic Council. The council was established by Clinton to coordinate domestic and international economic policy. It was first headed by Rubin, who formerly was chairman of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Sperling replaces Laura D'Andrea Tyson, an economist from the University of California.

Sperling, 11 days shy of his 38th birthday, is slight of stature, possesses a high-pitched voice and has a background in law and politics, not business. Even many inside the White House believed Clinton might go outside and pluck someone who has weight with the financial markets. But Sperling is a workaholic, a tireless defender of Clinton, who has been his boss since the 1992 campaign.

Clinton also announced that Charlene Barshefsky, who had been serving as acting U.S. trade representative, would be named to that job, and that Daniel Tarullo, now a deputy director of the National Economic Council, would assume a new position in charge of international economic affairs on the council.

"I'm very proud of my team," said Clinton, who still has openings to head the departments of energy, labor and housing.

In a moving aside, Richardson thanked -- partially in Spanish -- Hispanics and native Americans in his northern New Mexico district and across the United States for the privilege of representing them in Congress.

As Richardson was speaking, there was a scare in the room. Daley collapsed, pitching forward, glancing off Richardson and then falling to the floor.

Reporters in the front row appeared to break his fall, and Clinton rushed over to help him up. The president called for his doctor, and Vice President Al Gore walked Daley into an anteroom.

"I think he fainted," Clinton said. "I think he's fine. We'll give you a report in a minute."

Mike McCurry, the White House press secretary, told reporters later that Daley had not eaten lunch before the ceremony and apparently fainted beneath the hot lights. A doctor examined him and determined that his vital signs were fine, McCurry said.

Daley returned to the room briefly about 10 minutes later -- to a round of applause. Daley hails from a famous Chicago political family. At 48, he is the youngest of seven children of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, and his brother, Richard M. Daley, is mayor now.

After introducing his team, the president fielded questions on a broad array of subjects. In response, Clinton:

Ducked a question about reports that authorities in Saudi Arabia had told FBI Director Louis J. Freeh that Iran sponsored the June truck blast that killed 19 U.S. troops in Dhahran. "I think it is only fair to say the investigation is not completed," he said.

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