President-elect Barack Obama has a thing for Abraham Lincoln. He launched his presidential campaign at the old Illinois State House, the site of Lincoln's "House Divided" speech and frequently alluded to the nation's 16th president out on the stump. Just two weeks after his election, Mr. Obama told "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft last night that he's been reading about Lincoln as he prepares to take office in January.
Several times, Mr. Obama has noted Lincoln's decision to bring his political adversaries into his administration, something chronicled in great detail in the Doris Kearns Goodwin book, "Team of Rivals" – specifically three men who Lincoln surprisingly defeated for the Republican nomination in 1860. Among the "rivals" were New York Senator William Seward (who became Secretary of State), Ohio Governor Salmon Chase (Treasury Secretary), and former Missouri Congressman Edward Bates (Attorney General). Also included in Lincoln's was Edwin Stanton, a prominent attorney who became Secretary of War and who, upon seeing Lincoln for the first time early in their careers called him a "long-armed ape."
Sound familiar? Mr. Obama has already tapped into his own primary rivals by tapping Vice President-elect Joe Biden and is reportedly vetting New York Senator Hillary Clinton (and her husband) for a cabinet post, possible Secretary of State (a la Seward). And the president-elect will meet today with his general election opponent John McCain amid speculation that the new administration will include at least one Republican member. Newsweek has much more about the similarities between the two men from Illinois.