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Powell Passed Over

Sat., Dec. 14, 1996

Personal chemistry, not the politics of the next presidential campaign, doomed retired Gen. Colin Powell’s chances to be a member of President Clinton’s cabinet, according to White House officials familiar with the cabinet selection process.

When Clinton began shaping his second-term cabinet, Powell was widely viewed as just the person to add the expertise and bipartisan flavor the president was seeking.

But the popular former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was passed over for the top foreign and national security posts, prompting published speculation that Gore had vetoed him, fearful of promoting a potential presidential rival in the year 2000.

“That’s just ludicrous,” said one White House official, who declined to be identified.

According to aides, Clinton considered Powell but was miffed that the former general quoted private conversations with the president in his book, “My American Journey.”

The White House said the president also was cool toward Powell joining his second-term Cabinet. Powell had rebuffed mid-term overtures from the White House to discuss a position in the administration.

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