White House officials have approached American Express Co. (AXP) Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault about joining President Barack Obama’s second-term administration, possibly as Treasury secretary, according to two people familiar with the matter.
White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew remains the leading contender for the Treasury job, the people said. Still, consideration of Chenault among Obama’s staff may indicate the president hasn’t made a final decision on a replacement for Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who has said he plans to leave the post.
Other potential roles for Chenault, a longtime Obama supporter, may be as Commerce secretary or as a senior adviser to the president, according to the people, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations. White House officials have also considered Xerox Corp. (XRX) CEO Ursula Burns as a potential nominee for the Commerce Department job, both of the people said.
In addition to the top jobs at Treasury and Commerce, Obama will be filling openings at the State and Defense Departments as he remakes his economic, national security and foreign policy teams for the next four years.
The White House declined to comment on the potential nominations.
Seeking to accelerate economic growth and repair a relationship with the business community frayed by first term battles over taxes and regulation, Obama has said he would like to have a high-level executive to join his administration. Administration officials have said the Commerce Department is a natural spot for such an executive.