SUNRISE, Florida (Reuters) - U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would include Republicans in his Cabinet if he wins the election.
Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, also said he had “some pretty good ideas” about people he might tap for senior government jobs, though he emphasized he is focused for now on the final days of the campaign and takes nothing for granted.
“There is a transition process — that I’m not paying attention to on a day-to-day basis — but that has been set up,” Obama told ABC News in an interview.
Obama said he “absolutely” considered it important to have Republicans in the Cabinet but he sidestepped a question on whether he would ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in his job. There has been speculation that either Obama or his Republican rival, John McCain, might ask Gates to stay on.
“I’m not going to get into details,” Obama said, but he added that national security policy, in particular, should be nonpartisan.
Other people mentioned as possible defense secretary picks in an Obama administration include former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska.
Some analysts have speculated that during the transition period between November 4 and January 20, when a successor to President George W. Bush will take office, the new president-elect would move quickly to fill key jobs such as Treasury Secretary, Defense Secretary and Secretary of State.
Some public policy experts see a need for early announcements on such appointments in light of the global financial crisis and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“I am not going to jump the gun on this,” Obama said but he gave credit to the Bush administration for its offer to make government resources available to both candidates to begin the vetting process early.
Reporting by Caren Bohan; editing by Todd Eastham