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Tom Daschle Agrees to Join Obama Cabinet


Democratic Party officials say former U.S. Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services in the incoming administration. Obama's transition team has also signaled that Eric Holder is his choice for Attorney General. Holder would be the first African American to serve in that post. Senator Hillary Clinton is said to still be considering an offer by Mr. Obama to be Secretary of State. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine has more on how Mr. Obama's cabinet is shaping up.

Tom Daschle would be a high profile pick to to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system. As Health and Human Services secretary, Daschle would play a pivotal role in President-elect Obama' plans to extend healthcare coverage to the 47 million Americans - nearly one-sixth of the total population - who do not have health insurance.

The South Dakota Democrat was an early supporter of Mr. Obama's presidential bid and a close adviser to him throughout the campaign.

Eric Holder is reported to be Mr. Obama's choice to head the Justice Department. The 57-year-old son of a Barbados immigrant would be charged with restoring public confidence in the department, which has been damaged by charges of political meddling under President Bush and his former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Holder held the number two post at the Justice Department under former President Bill Clinton, and has also served as a federal prosecutor. The two cabinet choices have not yet been officially announced.

Speculation continues about whether or not Mr. Obama's former Democratic rival for the White House, Senator Clinton, will join his cabinet. Presidential historian and NBC analyst Doris Kearns Goodwin said Clinton would bring tremendous advantages to the position.

"For one thing it means you are going to have someone inside your inner circle who is able to argue with you, she is a strong-minded person, and you need options within your inner circle," she explained.

Reports say President Clinton has offered to provide information that would help in the approval process for the secretary of state job by releasing the names of some of his major donors to his charitable organization. Democratic sources say Mr. Clinton is also likely to submit future foundation activities and paid speeches to strict ethics reviews. University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato told CBS he believes the job is hers if her husband makes his finances transparent.

"President-elect Obama clearly is willing to appoint Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State if Bill Clinton agrees to become transparent on the financial side," he noted.

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told MSNBC she believes current presidents do not make enough use of the counsel of former presidents, and that Bill Clinton as a spouse would be an asset.

"So I think whatever complications Bill will bring, the idea that he might be within that inner circle to offer advice and suggestions, and even arguments, I think can only be much better than whatever the difficulties they are going to bring," she added.

Reports say Senator Clinton is seriously weighing whether to leave her seat as U.S Senator from New York to join Mr. Obama's cabinet. Senator Clinton is passionate about health care and a number of other domestic issues, which she would have to give up if she became secretary of state.

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