Obama picks his communications team

By: CNN
By: CNN

CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama's transition team announced several key appointments to his communications team Saturday.

Robert Gibbs will have one of the most highly visible roles in the Obama administration.

Robert Gibbs, an Obama campaign spokesman who also has acted as spokesman for the transition, will become Obama's press secretary, one of the most highly visible roles in the administration.

Gibbs, an Auburn, Alabama, native who has worked for Sen. Fritz Hollings, the Democratic Senatorial Committee and Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, was communications director and then a senior strategist for the Obama campaign.

Ellen Moran, executive director of EMILY's List, will serve as Obama's communications director.

Moran worked for the AFL-CIO, coordinating "Wal-Mart corporate accountability activities," before returning to EMILY's, an organization dedicated to helping Democratic women get elected to office. It had endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president. See who's on Obama's short list for cabinet posts »

Dan Pfeiffer, current communications director with the transition team, will be Obama's deputy communications director. He began work with the Obama campaign in January 2007 as traveling press secretary before returning to Chicago, Illinois, to work as communications director.

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Unlike Gibbs and Pfeiffer, Moran is not already on Obama's communications team.

"These individuals will fill essential roles, and bring a breadth and depth of experience that can help our administration advance prosperity and security for the American people," Obama said in a written statement.

"This dedicated and impressive group of public servants includes longtime advisors and a talented new addition to our team, and together we will work to serve our country and meet the challenges of this defining moment in history."

On Friday, sources indicated that some of Obama's Cabinet posts were close to being filled.

Two sources close to the transition team said New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner is "on track" to be offered the Treasury secretary post. Watch CNN's Anderson Cooper discuss Obama's choices »

Two sources also said that Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico is a serious contender for commerce secretary but that he could be chosen for another senior post.

Geithner has played a large role in the government's efforts to wrangle the credit crisis, which has damaged markets and economies worldwide. Although a number of those efforts have been controversial, Geithner remains a well-regarded figure from Wall Street to Washington.

Geithner began working with the Treasury Department in 1988 in the International Affairs division.

In 1999, he became under-secretary of the Treasury for international affairs.

Geithner would be charged with restoring stability to the financial markets, the banking system and the housing sector through oversight of the controversial $700 billion financial rescue package, of which about half is still available for use at the discretion of the Treasury secretary. Watch CNN's John King discuss the posts with panelists »

The Dow Jones industrial index staged a late rally Friday after traders heard news of Geithner's possible appointment, rising by almost 500 points shortly before the market's closing time.

The two sources close to the transition team said they do not consider Richardson's appointment to the Commerce Department to be a done deal.

Richardson, 61, was a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Currently in his second term as New Mexico's governor, he served as ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary in the Clinton administration.

Richardson is also considered to be a possibility for the secretary of state post.

Also Friday, Sen. Hillary Clinton's camp shot down reports that she had agreed to accept the secretary of state position.

"We're still in discussions, which are very much on track," said Philippe Reines, Clinton's senior adviser. "Any reports beyond that are premature."

The New York Times reported that Clinton would give up her Senate seat and accept the Cabinet post, citing two confidants, who said the decision was made after further consultation with Obama about the nature of her role and his foreign policy plans.

A senior Obama aide told CNN there has been no development on a possible Clinton appointment since they informed CNN Thursday that she is "on track" to be nominated for secretary of state.

Obama's transition team also appears close to choosing a national security adviser to the White House.

Retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones has emerged as the president-elect's leading choice for the position, two sources close to the Obama transition team say.

The sources said Jones has been given the impression by Obama that the job is his if he wants it. But the officials said that private discussions are under way and that no final decision has been made.

The discussions are focused on precisely how much power Jones will have in the staff job, since he is used to being in a command role. Among his many posts, Jones served for several years as the operational commander for NATO.


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