Who Will Fill The Next President's Cabinet?

Who are the most likely prospects to serve as Cabinet officers in a McCain or Obama administration? Both candidates are doing some planning.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Eleven days until the election and two new national polls show Senator McCain behind by more than 10 points. He's campaigning in the west today, Colorado and New Mexico. Barack Obama is in Hawaii to be with his ailing grandmother. He'll resume campaigning tomorrow in Nevada. NPR news analyst Juan Williams is here. Juan, welcome back.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Always good to be with you, Alex.

CHADWICK: So, I see the headline on the CBS/New York Times poll, "Obama Gaining among Bush Voters." If he's making inroads even there, where does Senator McCain go now?

WILLIAMS: Well, he's got to stop this bandwagon effect. The polls are kind of all over place. There was an AP poll that had it at two this week. But in general, what you're seeing in the polls is a double-digit lead for Senator Obama. And the key here, as you're pointing out, is that a lot of the people who are moderate Republicans or Reagan Democrats, conservative Democrats, plus the independents, are starting to shift in measurable numbers towards Obama. So, Senator McCain has to shift that somehow, and I think the key for him is, one, to drive up Obama's negatives, secondly, to go him specifically on taxes, a reliable Republican issue, and third, to try to make the economic issue into his own. He's got to make that story about him and make the negative story about Obama.

CHADWICK: How about Senator Obama really having to stop campaigning now for a couple of days so close to the election?

WILLIAMS: Well, it's tough, because right now, you want to go get out there and let people see that you have the fire and the bell, you really want this thing. But on the other hand, it's his grandmother, Alex, and his grandmother appears to be in pretty bad shape, near death. So, the notion that he is a compassionate, so I suppose that would play well, but people do want to see him. He's got to be on the media mix, so I guess he's going to have surrogates out there. Nonetheless, here's an opportunity again for John McCain to dominate the news.

CHADWICK: I wonder if Senator McCain at this point could maybe pick up some attention by saying here's my team, here's the people I would put in the cabinet. Who's on his team?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it's pretty obvious, if you start right at the top, the people that have surrounded him now for some time. Here we're talking about people like Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. You can imagine Lieberman over at the State Department. You can imagine Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina, over at the Pentagon as secretary of defense. In that way, what you see is that Senator McCain has a number of people that you could immediately point to and say that would be his team if he were to be elected.

CHADWICK: And how about Senator Obama in that regard?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think that you could anticipate someone like Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico who endorsed Obama at a critical moment in his campaign against Hillary Clinton, doing over to State. I think you could see people like Lee Hamilton, the former congressman from Indiana, over at Homeland Security. And maybe even Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona, over at the Justice Department as attorney general. The one that I think stands out right now in the current economic crisis would be Sheila Bair, who's currently part of a team that's working with Henry Paulson to try to repair the economy.

CHADWICK: What about your best political conversation this week?

WILLIAMS: Well, Alex, you know, this is a week in which lots of people are asking about what an Obama presidency might be like. I think people are headed in that direction along with the Congress - conversations about what's going to be the future of the Republican Party. But when it comes to what an Obama presidency might be like, I think there's a growing consensus that the people who would be most disappointed would be the people on the left because Obama would turn out to be more of a moderate. I think you're going to see lots of left-leaning editorial pages and left-leaning opinion leaders complaining about Obama early in much the way that they complained about Bill Clinton.

CHADWICK: NPR news analyst Juan Williams with us today from New Orleans. Juan, thank you.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Alex.

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