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Democrats jockeying for top Obama Cabinet posts

  • Story Highlights
  • President-elect Obama looking to fill top posts during transition period
  • Sources say Sen. John Kerry is lobbying hard to be secretary of state
  • Obama may also keep on Defense Secretary Robert Gates
  • Volcker, Summers are being mentioned for top Treasury job
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From Ed Henry
CNN White House Correspondent
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(CNN) -- To the victor belong the spoils, and after eight years out of the White House, Democrats want to be spoiled with high-profile jobs.

"For every senior job, there is probably 10 qualified people, and it's hard to be the person to tell the nine that they are not the number one pick," said former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart.

Senior Democrats say Sen. John Kerry is jockeying to be secretary of state -- and has a good case after endorsing President-elect Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

But some Democrats worry he can veer off message, just like Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

And that notion keeps New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel in the hunt. Video Watch more on the Obama transition to power »

Health care is another top priority, and a natural fit in the Cabinet would be well-respected former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

But Democratic sources say Howard Dean, a doctor who had a strong run as the Democratic National Committee chairman, is hungry for the job.

Speculation about Obama's treasury secretary has centered on Lawrence Summers, though he's faced controversy for sexist comments he made while serving as president of Harvard University.

Another name being mentioned? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

"Though he's not a person who would stay four or eight years, given his age, but to get things started, [he] would be a fabulous choice," said Alan Blinder, the former vice chairman of the Fed.

Plugged-in Democrats say there's also serious talk of Obama briefly keeping Robert Gates, President Bush's defense secretary, on board to show that the new president is not just looking for "yes men."


"I think you need a mixture of loyalists, people that President Obama trusts and works with, and people from the outside who bring a different perspective, who can question his decision, question his judgment," Lockhart said. Video Watch more on whether Gates will stay on »

One advantage Gates may have is that he's not lobbying for the job. Oftentimes, insiders who lobby too hard for Cabinet posts end up not getting them.

CNN political producer Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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