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Sources: Daley, Richardson, Sperling get second-term posts

December 13, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton has chosen Democratic activist Bill Daley of Chicago to be secretary of commerce and Rep. Bill Richardson to serve as United Nations ambassador, The Associated Press has learned. Janet Reno is expected to remain attorney general.

Gene Sperling, a White House economic aide with a knack of blending politics and economics, will be the next chairman of the National Economic Council, the AP also learned.

Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Daley, Richardson and Sperling were among the second-term personnel selections Clinton planned to unveil at a news conference today. Daley is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Clinton settled on the picks late Thursday, but told aides he wanted to sleep on the decisions.

In a long day of personnel deliberations, Clinton also met with Reno to ask her to remain in his Cabinet _ and she was expected to accept. Though the president called it ``a wonderful meeting,″ he did not specifically tell aides she was staying aboard.

Working late into the night, Clinton also indicated to aides that:

_Having Daley replace Mickey Kantor at Commerce makes Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater is Clinton’s likely choice for transportation secretary, replacing Federico Pena. An Arkansan with long ties to Clinton, Slater is black; Clinton is trying to diversify his Cabinet.

_Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder, a Princeton economist, emerged as the front-runner to replace Joseph Stiglitz as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. But there is a big hitch: One aide said Blinder was demanding certain conditions before accepting the job.

Clinton had considered dividing the NEC chairmanship between Sperling and another NEC deputy, Daniel Turullo. Though questions were raised about whether Sperling had the stature for the chairmanship, Clinton decided in the end that the tireless worker and loyal aide could handle the job.

With Reno’s situation coming to a head, Clinton still has five Cabinet vacancies to fill: the departments of Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Labor and Housing _ in addition to the two economic panels, the U.N. post and several White House positions.

Aides only expected Clinton to fill Commerce, the U.N. post and the NEC position today _ nearly rounding out his economic team. He was expected to announce Reno’s plans to stay aboard. He may fill most of the remaining vacancies next week.

Richardson, 49, an eight-term New Mexico Democrat, has been playing unofficial American ambassador to rogue states since December 1994 when he negotiated the release of a U.S. airman whose Army helicopter went down in North Korea. He has since also helped captured Americans get out of Iraq and Bangladesh.

He holds a graduate degree in diplomacy from Tufts University and has a long Washington career, including stints at the State Department’s congressional relations office and on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

A senior member of the House Intelligence Committee and of Congress’ Hispanic caucus, he made Clinton’s short list for interior secretary in 1992.

Daley, 48, is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt. Daley has known Clinton since 1979, managed his successful Illinois presidential campaign in 1992 and helped the White House win congressional passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He is the youngest of seven children of the late mayor, Richard J. Daley.

Going into the session with Reno, senior advisers said Clinton summoned the attorney general to ask her to stay. But, in a rare private meeting, none of Clinton’s advisers were on hand.

With the Justice Department tied to several White House investigations, Reno’s job status became a major issue in the transition to a second Clinton term. If she had left now, questions would be raised about whether she had been pushed.

Shortly after the election, anonymous leaks from White House aides dissatisfied with her performance raised questions about whether Clinton wanted her out of office.

The president fueled the speculation by refusing to comment on Reno’s future.

Aides said Clinton had declined to discuss the situation publicly because he did not want to be accused of trying to influence Reno’s decision on whether to request an independent counsel to investigate Democratic fund-raising.

She decided this month not to seek the outside inquiry but formed a Justice Department task force to investigate the allegations. With that matter out of the way, Clinton now felt comfortable to talk with Reno about her future, aides said.

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