Obama Proposes ‘Team of Rivals’ Cabinet

By MichaelJames

May 22, 2008 9:14pm

An amusing question and an historical answer at Sen. Barack Obama’s town meeting in Boca Raton, Fla.

The questioner asked, "You’re about to achieve a truly wonderful, historic nomination, but we both know unless you, and we, win in November, it’s going to be a footnote. So, my question is when the time comes, will you be willing to consider everybody who is a possible help to you as a running mate, even if his or her spouse is an occasional pain in the butt?"

Obama first begged off the presumption that his nomination is a done deal — "I don’t want to jump the gun," he said — but then he pivoted and jumped the gun a touch.

"I will tell you, though, that my goal is to have the best possible government, and that means me winning," Obama said, per ABC News’ Sunlen Miller. "And so, I am very practical minded. I’m a practical-minded guy. And, you know, one of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln."

Obama then referred to "a wonderful book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin called ‘Team of Rivals,’ in which [she] talked about [how] Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever, you know, personal feelings there were, the issue was, ‘How can we get this country through this time of crisis?’"

Lincoln, FYI, appointed three of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination to his cabinet — three men who at the time loathed him.

William H. Seward became secretary of state, Salmon P. Chase became secretary of the treasury, and Edward Bates became attorney general.

Another former rival, Edwin Stanton — who once called Lincoln a "long armed ape" — became secretary of war.

"That has to be the approach that one takes," Obama said, "whether it’s vice president or cabinet, whoever. And by the way that does not exclude Republicans either. You know my attitude is that whoever is the best person for the job is the person I want. … You know, if I really thought that John McCain was the absolute best person for the Department of the Homeland Security, I would put him in there."

An audience member yelled out: "No!"

"No, I would, if I thought that he was the best," Obama said. "Now, I’m not saying I do. I’m just saying that’s got to be the approach that you take because part of the change that I’m looking for is to make sure that we’re reminded of what we have in common as Americans."

Andrew Sullivan proposed the Team of Rivals idea earlier this month when pitching a unity ticket with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., as vice president.

So … Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as secretary of state? (Sorry, Sen. Kerry.) Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., as commerce secretary? Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., as attorney general?

Where would you put Mike Gravel?

- jpt

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