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Clinton balancing loyalties in final staff picks

February 8, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton is plugging the final holes in the second-term White House staff with a series of decisions reflecting his loyalties and the wishes of his vice president and wife.

Craig Smith, one of the president’s longest-serving and most-trusted aides, was named White House political director Friday. Smith, 38, the first employee on Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, formerly served in the White House personnel department and as political director of the 1996 campaign.

In other appointments, Clinton named:

_Kathryn ``Kitty″ Higgins to be deputy labor secretary. Thurgood Marshall Jr., son of the late Supreme Court justice, will replace her as director of Cabinet affairs at the White House. Marshall is a top aide to Vice President Al Gore.

_Maria Echaveste, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the Labor Department, to replace Alexis Herman as director of White House public liaison. Herman is the embattled nominee for secretary of labor.

_Karen Skelton, Gore’s political director, as a deputy to Smith.

_Minyon Moore, political director at the Democratic National Committee, as another Smith deputy.

The appointments disclose something about the personnel machinations of the White House.

Smith, an Arkansas native, is an obvious favorite of Clinton. The appointments of Skelton and Marshall follow a pattern of Gore’s sprinkling the White House roster with loyalists in advance of his 2000 presidential bid.

Echaveste, an also-ran for the labor secretary nomination, helps Clinton appease Hispanic interests who had wanted more clout in the Cabinet.

Marcia Hale, director of intergovernmental affairs, is expected to leave for a new administration post. But the president is having trouble choosing between liberal lobbyist Lynn Cutler and former State Department official Fred DuVal as her replacement.

It will be an interesting choice: Cutler is backed by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and DuVal is a former Gore aide.

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