Obama Plans Drastic Cabinet Shake-Up

Clinton, Geithner, Panetta, Holder all could be gone

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 8, 2012 7:45 AM CST

(Newser) – After a first term almost devoid of Cabinet shakeups, President Obama is now working on plans to replace virtually his entire team. Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner have both publicly announced their exits, but Leon Panetta, Eric Holder, Ray LaHood, Steven Chu, Ken Salazaar, and Lisa Jackson are all expected or rumored to be departing, too, insiders tell Politico. Replacements have been bandied about in secret. "They haven't even made calls," one source said. "They're more like targets than potential nominees." But here are the targets the rumor mill is focused on:

  • The prohibitive favorite for Treasury secretary seems to be Obama's chief of staff, and ex-budget director, Jack Lew. But there's also been speculation about Erskine Bowles, who, Bloomberg points out, would reassure Wall Street that a fiscal cliff deal is coming. And the New York Daily News has an intriguing, if unlikely, suggestion: Mitt Romney.
  • Clinton's successor at State is the other big one. Bloomberg reports that Susan Rice is the frontrunner there, despite her disastrous Benghazi comments. John Kerry has also long been rumored to be in the mix, but the Hill says that prospect has dimmed because Scott Brown, following his defeat on Tuesday, would be the favorite to replace Kerry in the Senate.
  • Leon Panetta hasn't said he's out, but Robert Gates has had to beg him to stay this long, Foreign Policy reports. GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel is reportedly being discussed as a replacement, as is David Petraeus. More likely, however, might be former undersecretary Michele Flournoy, or current Panetta deputy Ash Carter.
  • Obama is trying to find a place for Deval Patrick, and he's the frontrunner for attorney general—a job he also held under Bill Clinton. Janet Napolitano is interested too, but she's also considering running for Senate—and could be a Supreme Court pick.
  • Napolitano's current gig at Homeland Security may go to DC Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland—who's also in the mix for attorney general—or to National Counterterrorism Center director Matt Olsen.
  • No matter what, Obama wants at least one Republican, the New York Times reports. One possibility: retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, though it's unclear for what post.

President Barack Obama meets with members of his cabinet at the White House, July, 26, 2012.
President Barack Obama meets with members of his cabinet at the White House, July, 26, 2012.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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