From the NY Times’ Caucus Blog:
CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama won’t be attending this weekend’s global economic summit hosted by President Bush, but he designated a bipartisan team of surrogates Wednesday to sit down with visiting foreign delegations on his behalf.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, and former Representative Jim Leach, a Republican from Iowa who endorsed Mr. Obama during the campaign, will get together in “unofficial meetings” with leaders or their advisers from some of the Group of 20 nations while they are in Washington, Mr. Obama’s office said.
“This weekend’s summit is an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of many of the world’s largest economies,” Denis McDonough, Mr. Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, said in a statement. “President Bush should be commended for calling the summit. There is one president at a time, so the President-elect has asked Secretary Albright and Congressman Leach, an experienced and bipartisan team, to be available to meet with and listen to our friends and allies on his behalf.”
ALSO — In other Iowa-Obama news. Congressional Quarterly says Tom Vilsack has emerged as the “frontrunner” to be the next ag secretary:
Vilsack, a Democrat, has a powerful booster in fellow Iowan Tom Harkin , chairman of the Senate committee that will hold confirmation hearings for the next secretary. Harkin has been a political backer of the two-term former governor since his election in 1998 and supported Vilsack’s short-lived presidential campaign.
“Senator Harkin believes that Governor Vilsack would be a great secretary of Agriculture,” said Harkin spokeswoman Kate Cyrul.
Vilsack also got a thumbs-up from Iowa’s senior senator, Republican Charles E. Grassley .
“In administrations that I’ve known, it’s always been beneficial for our state to have another Iowan closer to the seat of power,” Grassley said in a statement.
As ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley will be a key player in deliberations about President-elect Barack Obama ‘s plan to cut taxes for the middle class.
Capitol Hill aides, agriculture interest groups and people close to the transition all say Vilsack is the clear favorite for the position, though Obama is not believed to have interviewed anybody for the job yet.