Barack Obama said today he would appoint at least one Republican to his cabinet as he praised the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln – a president who gave top posts to several of his bitterest political enemies.
Mr Obama, who meets John McCain in Chicago tomorrow to discuss ways they can work together after he becomes president, said he would be announcing Cabinet appointments soon, days after he discussed with Hillary Clinton the possibility of making her his Secretary of State.
In his first full interview since winning the election, Mr Obama described the challenges he faces when he takes office in January as “enormous” and “multiple”.
He made clear his determination to pick the most effective team to tackle them, even if it means choosing former rivals and Republicans.
Mr Obama said he had spent “a lot of time” reading the writings of President Lincoln since the election, because “there is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”
He and Mrs Clinton have both read and admired ‘Team of Rivals’, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how President Lincoln bought old foes into government after winning the 1860 election.
Reminded that the 16th president put many of his political enemies in his cabinet, Mr Obama was asked on CBS’s 60 Minutes whether he was considering the same approach. “Well, I’ll tell you what,” he replied. “I find him a very wise man.”
Lincoln and his cabinet. Courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York