Romney Names Former Utah Gov. To Lead Potential Transition

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) - Mitt Romney has named former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to lead his presidential transition team should he win November's general election, the Republican presidential candidate's campaign confirmed Monday.

"Governor Romney has asked Governor Leavitt to lead the Readiness Project. This is exactly what the bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Obama in 2010 encouraged candidates to do," Romney's campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote.

Saul was referring to the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010, which allowed the General Services Administration to provide candidates with resources – including office space and equipment - for a presidential transition ahead of the general election. The intent of that measure was to render the transfer of power between presidents as efficient as possible.

Appointing a transition team before the general election is a common practice among presidential candidates, meant to ensure no president-elect is caught off guard with the requirements of becoming commander-in-chief.

Obama appointed John Podesta, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, to lead his transition team well ahead of 2008's general election.

Although it is standard operating procedure to have a transition team, Obama campaign Senior Strategist David Axelrod said on a conference call Monday it is not standard operating procedure to "make a big point of it."

"I view it as a political gesture on his part to do that," Axelrod said. "We had a transition process that was very quiet throughout the summer and fall."

He said the story will "be ultimately a part of the dust-bin of history."

Leavitt, Romney's pick to lead a potential transition, was elected governor of Utah in 1992, and went on to hold the office for ten years. He was governor of the state when Romney headed the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee in 2002.

In 2003 Leavitt was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He later became Bush's Secretary of Health and Human Services.

CNN's Jim Acosta and Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.

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