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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 12:57 GMT
Bush looks to cabinet reshuffle
The Bush cabinet meets on 4 November
Bush cabinet meetings involving all 15 secretaries are rare
US President George W Bush is looking at a new cabinet line-up having told reporters change is "inevitable" after winning a second term in office.

He said he would "start thinking" about how to alter his 15-strong cabinet when he visits the presidential retreat of Camp David in Maryland this weekend.

Speculation is rife that there will be a number of high-profile resignations.

The state of Ohio has finally declared its results - a Bush win - thereby completing the US election count.

KEY DATES
Before 13 December: States compile lists of delegates to Electoral College
7 December: Deadline for states to resolve any problems over election results
13 December: Electors meet in each state to vote for president and vice-president, sending sealed results to Washington
3 January 2005: New Congress sworn in
6 January 2005: Congress meets to count and announce Electoral College vote
20 January: Presidential inauguration

Counting of absentee ballots in Ohio continued after Senator John Kerry conceded national defeat on Wednesday because the result in the state had been too close to call.

Results released on Friday give 745,980 votes to Mr Bush and 732,764 to Mr Kerry. Thus the president's final tally of Electoral College votes is 286 to 252 for his Democratic rival.

Attorney General John Ashcroft might announce his resignation from the cabinet before President Bush's inauguration, some aides say.

Mr Ashcroft, 62, suffered health problems earlier this year but while some officials say he is exhausted others claim he has been energised by the wins for Republicans in the presidential and congressional elections.

Correspondents say Secretary of State Colin Powell, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta may also be considering their future.

First resignation

On Friday, the State Department official in charge of counter-terrorism, Cofer Black, who reports to Mr Powell, announced he would be stepping down.

He is the first senior official to announce his resignation since Mr Bush's re-election victory.

He said through a spokesman that he had been planning to leave, whatever the election result.

Mr Black had been criticised for a report in April which maintained global terror attacks tallied off in 2003, when in fact they were later shown to be on the rise.

Observers say there is unlikely to be wholesale change in the government at any one time.

Democrat option

Cabinet secretaries have to be approved by the Senate and Mr Bush would not want to have a large number of appointments left pending at any one time, they suggest.

There is speculation that Mr Bush may want to include a Democrat in his cabinet - particularly if Mr Mineta, the only secretary from the opposition party, leaves.

While changes in the cabinet would affect the public face of the Bush administration - particularly if well-known figures like Mr Powell and Mr Ridge retire - the direction of policy is expected to continue to come very much from the White House and Mr Bush's closest advisers.


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