US Presidential Elections: Clinton favours domestic team in his image : John Lichfield in Washington considers who might get the top jobs in the event of a Democratic victory

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The Independent Online
HOUSE prices in some of Washington's leafiest and least bullet-torn suburbs are zooming. Up to 20,000 Democratic political appointees are preparing to move into the capital (or move within it). More than 20,000 Republican political appointees are not yet ready to move out. Since no one has any idea what a typical Perot appointee might look like, the Texan billionaire's rise in the polls is probably not yet a factor in the real-estate market.

But assuming the polls are pointing in the right direction, what would the first Democratic administration in 12 years look like? Informed guesswork on foreign and defence policy (covered in yesterday's Independent) follows limited, well-worn paths. On the domestic policy side, it embraces almost every sitting and former senior Democratic member of Congress, a clutch of Democratic governors and think-tank heads and what one Clinton staffer describes as 'Bill Clinton's 10,000 closest friends'.

This may be no bad thing. Much of Jimmy Carter's difficulty in Washington stemmed from his overloading of the administration with fellow Georgians of variable quality and experience. Governor Clinton, though running as a Washington outsider, has been a tireless networker in national and state politics for a dozen years or more.

Many of the senior, domestic appointments to a Clinton administration are likely to resemble Mr Clinton himself: men and women in their mid to late forties, liberal in their youth, now pragmatically determined to prove that government has a useful role to play after 12 years of anti-government under Ronald Reagan and non-government under George Bush. The pessimistic interpretation is that many of these people will bring with them the constituencies and special interests they previously worked for in state politics, Congress or the Washington lobbying industry.

The one exception to the fortysomething, Democratic-insider rule may be Governor Clinton's appointment as Treasury Secretary. To appease the markets, he is expected to go for someone older and more familiar with the southern tip of Manhattan island. Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, has been mentioned, but is probably too fiscally austere for Mr Clinton's taste. A more likely choice is said to be Felix Rohatyn, a frail-looking investment banker who toyed with the idea of supporting Mr Perot before endorsing Mr Clinton's plans to put public investment before deficit reduction.

Potentially, the most crucial choice of all is White House chief of staff. One name emerging from the mists is Roy Romer, the pragmatic, softly spoken, Democratic Governor of Colorado (but Mr Clinton may remember what happened when George Bush imported Governor John Sununu from New Hampshire).

For budget director, another critical choice, Mr Clinton is said to be considering Congressman Leon Panetta, the respected chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Rob Shapiro, a senior member of the Washington think-tank community, or Alice Rivlin, former head of the neutral Congressional Budget Office.

A Clinton administration's most prominent tame Republican is likely to be Tom Kean, a Clinton pal and former Governor of New Jersey. He is tipped for education. Other likely crew members are Henry Cisneros, a former mayor of San Antonio and the brightest and most respected Hispanic politician in the country (earmarked for transport or commerce); Senator Tim Wirth of Colorado (for environment); and Congressman Mike Espy of Mississippi, one of the most impressive black members of Congress (for housing and urban development).

(Photograph omitted)

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