Obama team taps three for key positions

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Chicago, Nov.17 : U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has announced the appointment of three key White House advisers over the weekend.

According to the Washington Times, Valerie Jarrett, a longtime family friend and close counselor with a long history in Chicago politics, will serve as a senior White House adviser. Phil Schiliro, a longtime congressional investigator for California Democrat Henry A.

Waxman will serve as the head of the White House legislative affairs office, while Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, will fill the same position for Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Junior.

"These individuals will be essential members of our team. I have the utmost confidence that their broad and diverse experience will serve my administration and the American people well," the paper quoted Obama as saying in a statement released by his transition office.

Jarrett's hiring a day after her 52nd birthday, removes one of the top names under speculation as a possible replacement to fill Obama's U.S. Senate seat, which he will vacate Sunday.

Top candidates for the seat from Illinois still include Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and double amputee who now serves as the secretary of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs; Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat; and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, also an Illinois Democrat.

Jarrett, a Michigan law school graduate who grew up in Chicago, first came to know the Obama family through the president-elect's wife, Michelle, when she and Obama were engaged. Jarrett hired Michelle Robinson to work for her in 1991. Jarrett eventually became a trusted aide to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and then took Michelle with her to the city planning commission when she changed jobs.

In 1995, she went to work for the Habitat Company, a Chicago-based real estate development and apartment-management company. In January 2007, she became president and CEO of Habitat after 11 years as executive vice president. Habitat has developed more than 17,000 housing units and currently manages more than 20,000 units, the Obama transition office said.

Schiliro joined the Obama campaign in the summer to work on legislative issues after working on Capitol Hill for more than 25 years.

Klain, a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, went on to serve as chief counsel to Biden when he was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During President Clinton's first term, Klain oversaw federal judicial nominations. During the second Clinton term, he served as chief of staff to Gore and also oversaw the latter's legal effort during the protracted 2000 presidential-election recount.

ANI

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