As he looks to fill several cabinet positions for his second term, President Obama should “ensure that there’s diversity,” said Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress. Tanden discussed the reshuffled administration with MSNBC’s Chris Jansing on Friday morning. Obama is likely to make six new appointments, according to the National Journal.
Sen. John Kerry is a strong candidate for Secretary of State. Obama relied on Hillary Clinton’s judgement and discretion and will want the same level of confidence in her replacement.
“I think the real test is whether the president can really trust John Kerry to speak for him,” Tanden said. “He spent a lot of time with him recently, so I think he has a good sense of that by now.”
The president may want to bolster his bipartisan credibility by appointing a Republican. The possibilities would include former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. But in Tanden’s view, the job is more likely to stay inside Obama’s party.
“There really can’t be any daylight between the State Department and the White House,” Tanden said. “I expect him to go with a Democrat or someone who has served in his administration.”
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has said he would not return for a second-term. “A critical part of this job is selling the infrastructure proposals,” Tanden said. “We have lost sight of it, but we still have work to do on jobs, and infrastructure is key in the president’s agenda. The National Journal speculates that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could be a frontrunner for the position, as could former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell or New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But being an expert on the issues may not be enough for potential candidates. “As you look at the entire cabinet, the White House will also look at diversity, but I don’t know all of those candidates actually have a lot going for them,” Tanden said.