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Obama Begins Assembling New Administration


President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday began the task of building a new administration, 76 days before he becomes the 44th President of the United States on January 20.

Mr. Obama enjoyed a quiet morning with his family, walking his daughters to school, before starting work on assembling a new White House staff that will shape his administration and help him confront the problems facing the nation.

The 47-year-old Democratic senator from Illinois made history late Tuesday after winning more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

At last count, Mr. Obama had won 349 electoral votes, compared to 162 electoral votes for Arizona Senator John McCain, his Republican opponent. Mr. Obama secured victory with just over 52 percent of the popular vote.

In Washington, President George Bush congratulated President-elect Obama on his victory and said U.S. citizens had shown the world, in his words, "the vitality of America's democracy."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added her own congratulations today, and assured Mr. Obama that her department would work for a smooth transition of power.

In a victory speech to more than 100,000 supporters in his hometown of Chicago, Mr. Obama said his election proves "America is a place where all things are possible."

Senator McCain hailed his rival's victory in a concession speech in Phoenix, Arizona, telling supporters Mr. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and his country.

He will be sworn in as the country's 44th president on January 20, 2009. His victory ends eight years of Republican control of the White House under President George Bush. Mr. Bush is constitutionally barred from running again after serving two consecutive four-year terms.

Mr. Obama's campaign focused on strengthening the U.S. economy, which voters said was their top concern.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.