With Obama Widening His Lead in the Polls, Insiders Speculate About His Cabinet

Many campaign aides would be up for posts in an Obama White House, along with a few Clinton veterans.

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Barack Obama's lead in the opinion polls is prompting fresh speculation on whom he would appoint to the top jobs in a new administration.

Obama spokesmen say he isn't taking victory for granted. But that hasn't prevented his loyalists and Democratic insiders from talking about possible picks.

The list of possibilities includes veterans of Bill Clinton's administration, some high-profile newcomers who have worked closely with Obama, and a few surprises.

For White House chief of staff, the leading candidates appear to include former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, and Chicago businesswoman and former Chicago city official Valerie Jarrett, the insiders say.

Daschle would be wise to the ways of Capitol Hill, especially among Democrats, who are expected to increase their majorities. But Plouffe and Jarrett are considered effective administrators, another valued skill in running the West Wing.

For press secretary, Democratic insiders point to Linda Douglass, a former TV journalist who is now an Obama spokeswoman, or Bill Burton, another campaign spokesman. Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, could move into the slot of White House communications director.

As national security adviser, the possibilities include Susan Rice, an Obama confidant and former senior State Department official under President Bill Clinton, and James Steinberg, who was deputy national security adviser under Clinton.

As secretary of state, insiders say possibilities include Daschle, former senior State Department official and former United Nations Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and outgoing Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Some Democrats would like to see Obama coax former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, another veteran of the Clinton years, back into his old job, where he was well respected.

Perhaps most interesting, insiders say Obama and his campaign inner circle have been impressed with Robert Gates's evenhandedness and pragmatism as defense secretary. And many Democrats hope that if Obama wins on November 4, he will ask Gates to stay on for at least a few months to give a luster of bipartisanship and outreach to the new administration.