The presidential election is less than two weeks away, and the transition teams for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are finalizing plans to take over the White House -- should their candidate be sworn into office next January. Our Washington, D.C. reporter Geoff Bennett has an inside look at how that process works and how Hillary Clinton is already raising eyebrows with a potential high-profile cabinet pick.
Vice President Joe Biden is under consideration for secretary of state if Hillary Clinton wins the White House. A source confirms the news first reported by POLITICO.
Filling that key Cabinet position is among the many responsibilities facing both candidates in the final stretch of the race. On November 8th, the 18-month marathon of a presidential campaign will give way to a 73-day dash to hand over control from one administration to the next.
'The Job Is Enormous'
"The job is enormous," said Max Stier, president and CEO of the non-profit Partnership For Public Service. The organization has helped both candidates get an early jump on transition planning beginning this past spring.
Soon after taking office, an incoming president has to make more than 4,000 political appointments and draft a budget for the $4 trillion federal government.
"Anybody who walks in and thinks they’re going to get it done without doing their spadework early on, is in big trouble," he added.
'Transitions Are a Time of Vulnerability'
"Transitions are a time of vulnerability for a country," said former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, who served as Mitt Romney's transition chief in 2012. Leavitt is lending advice for Donald Trump's transition.
"You have to build a team that’s prepared when the curtain goes down on the election and goes up on the president-elect, that you’ve got an entire mechanism in place to try to care for that," he said.
Clinton's Transition Team Said to Outpace Trump's
In August, members of the Clinton and Trump transition teams moved into government-owned office space a block from the White House. The teams work separately, selecting and vetting staff, crafting policy and coordinating with advisers in the Obama White House.
A source familiar with the planning says Clinton’s transition team is outpacing Trump’s group of advisers, which is led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Clinton's campaign meanwhile is downplaying its transition planning entirely -- fearful of appearing overconfident about an Election Day victory, despite news about Biden leaking out.
Both Sides Aware of the Stakes
Stier says both teams are carefully and quickly hashing out blueprints for their potential administrations, fully aware of the stakes.
"There's no way that either team is going to have it all done by the time they really need to have it done," he said. "But we all have to hope that they are further down the road than anyone has ever been before because we need it."
"I will tell you that one of them will lose, one of them will win," said Leavitt. "The one that wins will go on, have an important experience in transitioning power of the most important democracy in the world. The other will look back on it as a great experience, having learned a lot. But I suspect they'll feel a bit like I did. We built a great ship, but it never sailed."
No matter who wins, Obama administration officials say are committed to overseeing a smooth transfer of power in January.