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Ken Salazar Steps into Tough Job As Head of Clinton Transition Team

Hillary Clinton picked Ken Salazar for a high-pressure, critical job when she named him chair of her transition team.
Image:  The White House is seen from the south side in Washington D.C. ((C)Karen Bleier/AFP-Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton picked Latino political veteran Ken Salazar to chair her transition team into the White House if she is elected in November. But Salazar's new job has become far more complex and critical in recent years.

Although transfers of power between U.S. presidents generally have been peaceful — they're primarily about ensuring that the president taking over the White House hits the ground running — they have not always been well orchestrated. But much has been done in the last two administrations that would make the job for Salazar, former secretary of Interior under Obama and a former U.S. senator, one that comes with much pressure and expectation.

In an April 22 article, the Atlantic described how the transition process became more precise and more intense under George W. Bush, who recognized the security threat the nation still faced when his administration entered its final year. Obama, who took over as the country was in an economic recession, built on that redefinition of the job.

Since then, new laws have been passed that dictate some specifics of the transition, including filling in gaps in personnel that are left when political appointees depart with the president.

The non-profit Center for Presidential Transition has produced a manual and guideline to smooth the next and future transitions and provides other assistance to campaigns. According to the center, Congress allocated $7 million in its 2017 budget to help the president-elect with the transition after the election.

"Once Hillary Clinton makes history by being elected as the nation's first woman president, we want to have a turnkey operation in place so she can hit the ground running right away," Salazar said in a statement issued by the campaign.

All of this adds up to significant pressure on Salazar to set up a Clinton, should she win, with few, if any hiccups.

"The success of your presidency depends on how you plan for it. Wing it at your own peril," the Atlantic wrote in its article.

Donald Trump named former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head his transition team in May.

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