Obama also eyes Richard Parsons

Barack Obama is eyeing CNN’s telegenic medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta as the next surgeon general.

Meanwhile, former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons’ name surfaced as one of the people Obama is considering as Commerce Secretary after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew from consideration Sunday, according to Time magazine’s blog the Page. An adviser in the Ford administration, Parsons has been serving as an economic adviser on Obama’s transition team.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Gupta, a 39-year-old neurosurgeon, first discussed the possibility of the high-profile post with president-elect Obama during a November meeting in Chicago, and then with Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle. The Post says Gupta will accept the position “within days.”

Gupta, who also is a contributor to CBS and Time, would bring both professional and political expertise to the job. Before his CNN stint, Gupta served as a White House fellow, in which capacity he gave policy pointers and wrote speeches for Hillary Clinton.

But his pick would add a dose of high-profile star power to a position that often demands PR savvy and public attention, particularly in highlighting public-health issues. The same year People named him one of 2003’s sexiest men, he reported as an embedded correspondent with the U.S. Navy’s medical unit the Devil Docs and even performed brain surgery five times on the warfront.

CNN did not say whether Gupta would take the post, but released the following statement: “Since first learning that Dr. Gupta was under consideration for the surgeon general position, CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health-care policy or any matters involving the new administration.”

Parsons, who left Time Warner last month, has long been rumored to be considering a return to the public arena, including a possible run for mayor of New York. But with a change in the city’s term limits law, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to run again.

In addition to his experience with Ford, Parsons served as co-chair of President Bush’s committee on Social Security. He also was on the transition teams for Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani before they became mayors, as well as Eliot Spitzer before he became governor of New York.

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