Governor Prepares for Obama Inauguration

TOPEKA, Kan. - Governor Kathleen Sebelius says of all the celebrities scheduled to attend the presidential inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama is the star she's most looking forward to seeing.

When Obama makes history Tuesday, swearing in as the nation's first African-American president, Governor Sebelius will be right there. "All governors have been invited to sit on the platform with the president," said Sebelius.

The governor leaves for D.C. on Saturday and will return Wednesday, using the state plane to make her trips. Once there, Sebelius will personally pay for all of her expenses, including hotel, food and tickets. She said a cabinet secretary and head of the Finance and Housing Authority will fly with her on the state plane.

"The security was pretty adamant I use the state plane," Sebelius explained. "This is obviously a time when security issues are paramount. Governors are really some of the only elected officials who can have people on the ground with us."

Something the governor said she is looking forward to is the Midwestern Inaugural Ball Tuesday night. "Lots of good friends will be at the Washington Convention Center for the inaugural ball," she said. "All of that sounds pretty exciting."

Sebelius said she's thrilled about the new administration, especially because of the close relationship she has already established with the president-elect.

"I think it always helps to have connections with the President and the Cabinet for a governor. So, I know most of the cabinet members personally," said Sebelius. "If we have a problem, the opportunity to pick up the phone, have somebody return my call, and get something on the radar screen of the new administration, I think, can always be helpful."

The governor said being raised by a mother and grandmother from Kansas gave Obama midwestern values that help him relate to Kansans.

"I'm very excited about his becoming president and also having a chance to, as a governor, work with a president who wants to push the same initiatives we've been working on for the last six years," said Sebelius. "We'll have an ally in the White House."

Despite the tough economic times, Obama's inauguration is sure to be an extravagant event. "Over the next three days there'll be an opportunity to not only celebrate the campaign, celebrate a new president - the 44th president," Sebelius said. "As the 44th governor, I kinda like that connection. We share the same number!"

Check out Kansas Inauguration Celebrations at http://www.ksdp.org/inauguration/events


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