TODAY   |  November 09, 2012

Tearful Obama thanks team; Cabinet faces shake-up

In a video released by the Obama campaign, a tearful president thanks his campaign workers before he sets off to tackle second-term issues including taxes, the debt and replacing as many as five high profile secretaries in his Cabinet. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> delivers his first post election statement from the white house this afternoon. the focus? strengthening the economy and avoiding the fiscal cliff, just two of the issues on the president's plate. chuck todd is nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, willie. while the president is about to get knee deep in these negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff, dealing with taxes and the debt might be his biggest second-term issue he has some housekeeping to do with the cabinet as he will lose at least five major cabinet secretaries including hillary clinton , leon panetta , and timothy geithner .

>> i'm really proud of all of you, and what you -- [ applause ]

>> reporter: in a video released by the obama campaign a tearful president thanks his campaign workers.

>> what you guys -- what you guys accomplished will go on into the annals of history and people will read about it and marvel about it, but the most important thing you need to know is that your journey is just beginning.

>> reporter: now the president is getting ready for big changes, this time to his cabinet. mr. obama's top three secretaries all expected to leave within the next few months, possibly even before the end of the year. secretary of state hillary clinton has repeatedly said she is on her way out.

>> i want to then take some time to get reconnected to, you know, the stuff that makes life worth living, you know, family, friends, the sort of activities that i enjoy.

>> reporter: the one-time rival to barack obama may be replaced by another former presidential candidate , massachusetts senator john kerry , chairman of the senate foreign relations committee . another candidate? the president's national security adviser tom donilon, and perhaps a more controversial choice, u.n. ambassador susan rice , the obama administration's representative who gave the initial incorrect intelligence explanation of the benghazi attacks. still, most insiders believe rice and kerry are the two front-runners. white house veterans say clinton's eventual replacement will be on solid ground.

>> the secretary of state in the second administration has the advantage of a president who has their bearings about what they want to accomplish around the world.

>> in treasury the top candidate to replace timothy geithner white house chief of staff jack lew who has also served as the budget director. the president may decide to keep him where he is and perhaps look elsewhere to another senator or clinton administration veteran. at the pentagon leon panetta 's departure may not occur until the spring but the list may include michele flournoy . she would be the first ever woman to head defense. rhode island senator jack reed , a west point graduate and veteran of the armed services committee . then there is john kerry if the president doesn't tap him for state. attorney general eric holder , a long-time political target of conservatives, says he is still undecided about staying on. he reportedly told law students in baltimore thursday, do i have some gas left in the tank? that's something that i'm in the process now of trying to determine.

>> these are intense, critical jobs, and, yeah, there is a high burn out factor.

>> reporter: many of these announcements, though, are going to be postponed, particularly treasury, because of the fiscal cliff negotiations. both jack lew and timothy geithner are front and center in these talks with speaker john boehner .

>> all right. chuck todd at the white house this morning,