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Monday
Jun042012

Romney Taps Former Utah Governor to Head Transition Team

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has chosen former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to lead his transition team to the White House, a move to try and ensure a seamless transition should the candidate be elected this fall.

The team, dubbed by the campaign the “Readiness Project,” will help a future Romney administration be poised to transition into the White House smoothly during the short time period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the campaign said.  Leavitt’s new position was first reported by Politico.

“This is exactly what the bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Obama in 2010 encouraged candidates to do,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul, who confirmed Leavitt’s appointment.

Leavitt and Romney first met back in 2002, when the then-governor picked Romney to run the failing Salt Lake City Olympics.  The two -- both Mormons -- have stayed close over the years, with Leavitt campaigning alongside Romney throughout the primary contests.

Senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod on Monday called the Leavitt transition team "standard operating procedure" but said Romney was deviating from precedent by "making a big point of it."

"I view it as kind of a political gesture on his part to do that," he said. "We had a transition process that was very quiet throughout the summer and fall of last time. The one thing I feel strongly about is that we’re going to have a good, hard closely fought election. I think we’re going to win that election."

"I congratulate Gov. Romney on the appointment of his transition team. I think that their report will ultimately be part of the dustbin of history," Axelrod said.

Leavitt served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration.

The campaign added that it would have been irresponsible for Romney to not have developed this task force, and noted that Obama formed a similar committee during his campaign.

The Presidential Transition Act was amended in 2010 to allow services for presidential candidates to begin to prepare for a transition prior to the general election.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio