Clinton staffers make up nearly two- thirds of Obama transition team
John Byrne
Published: Monday December 1, 2008

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Some staffers reviewing candidates for jobs they held in Clinton Administration

Exactly where does change end and President Bill Clinton begin?

President-Elect Obama will announce New York Democratic senator Sen. Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State today -- the most public signal of the two primary campaigns' rapprochement. Beneath the surface, the distance between Obama and Clinton has shrunk even further.

Two-third of Obama's transition team is made up of Clinton Administration staffers, a recent report says. That's at least 85 of the 135-member team assembled to review appointments to agencies and hire governmental employees.

"Clintonites are everywhere," Ben Smith and Carrie Budoff Brown wrote at Politico last week.

"Some members of Obama's transition teams are reviewing the same agencies they worked for in the '90s: Pamela Gilbert, the former executive director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is reviewing the CPSC; Phyllis Segal, the former director of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, is vetting the FLRA; and Michael Camunez, Clinton's senior policy adviser for national service is reviewing -- you guessed it -- "national service," added Washington Wire.

"Obama's victory in the general election produced what his primary campaign couldn't: A swift merger of the Clinton Wing of the Democratic Party with the Illinois Senator's self-styled insurgency," Smith adds. "The merger began, during the campaign, in the policy apparatus -- which is now rapidly becoming the governing apparatus."

Bill Clinton's onetime chief of staff -- and leader of the largest liberal thinktank, Center for American Progress -- is leading the former Illinois senator's transition team. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, did not endorse him during the primary. Obama is said to be attempting to avoid an "early mistake" made by previous administration -- trying to wield power in Washington using a closely-held personal team that isn't versed in Washington dealmaking.

Obama is set to announce Sen. Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State at a news conference in Chicago today.

The Obama Administration is also expected to hire other old Washington hands, including former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services.