Obama's Dream Team: Who Will Make Up His Administration?

The balloons had barely settled in Grant Park before President-elect Barack Obama got down to business and began selecting members of his Cabinet and transition team.

On Jan. 21, Obama will inherit a nation that is in financial turmoil and waging two wars overseas -- making a quick, smooth transition imperative. He has already named Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., as his chief of staff and set up meetings with an economic advisory board.

How the president-elect handles the transition period can chart the course for the beginning of his term. Some believe President Bill Clinton handicapped himself in his first year by not moving quickly enough during the transition period. Clinton did not select his first chief of staff, Leon Panetta, until just days before inauguration.

But Obama appears to be avoiding the same mistakes by making quick appointments. Here are the official Obama appointments and other potential candidates for the new administration.

Rahm Emanuel

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., has accepted the position of White House chief of staff. A veteran of the Clinton administration and a close political ally of Obama's from Chicago, Emanuel brings experience, knowledge of Capitol Hill and a sense of duty. Obama reportedly told associates, per ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, that he believes Emanuel will "have his back."

Selecting a veteran like Emanuel has its pros and cons. Obama pledged to bring to Washington a "new kind of politics," but also does not want to appear naive and unprepared for the presidency. Emanuel served six and a half years under Clinton and has been a member of Congress for four terms.

Emanuel has moved up through the Congressional ranks and knows how to work Washington. While these are certainly qualifications for his new job, they also may have posed some reservations in him accepting the position. Emmanuel was said to have ambitions to some day be Speaker of the House. He also has young children, and cited his family as a big consideration when making decision.

"I have to make a decision about my family. I've been in the White House," Emanuel WLS-TV, the ABC News Chicago. "I used to joke in the White House that on Fridays, I would say, 'It's two more workdays till Monday.' When I was in the White House, I didn't have children. I do know something about the White House, and I do have children now. I have a family. "

David Axelrod

Obama chief campaign strategist David Axelrod will almost certainly be appointed a White House senior advisor. The Chicago native has known the president-elect since 1993, longer than anyone else in Obama's inner circle. He is widely credited for helping Obama's political ascent and has been on the forefront of Obama's campaign.

In his acceptance speech, Obama said Axelrod has been "a partner with me every step of the way." The Chicago native is not new to the political scene. He has advised several Democratic candidates since 1985 and is reportedly close friends with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

In a profile of Axelrod, the Los Angeles Times cited a description of Axelrod as "Obama's answer to Karl Rove and the most powerful political consultant not on a coast." Axelrod has said he became interested in politics at the age of five, when he watched John F. Kennedy become president.

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