One, maybe two
By our reading, Obama only needed to appoint one Republican to his Cabinet to satisfy this promise — and he did.
In a Dec. 1, 2008, news conference to announce his national security team, Obama said he asked Robert Gates to continue as secretary of defense. Gates has served under several Republican administrations, including as national security adviser and then director of central intelligence under the first President George Bush.
At the news conference, Obama said of Gates, "He knows that we need a sustainable national security strategy — and that includes a bipartisan consensus at home."
Case closed? Not so fast.
Although numerous media outlets have identified Gates as a Republican, he actually is not registered with either party.
In a Pentagon news conference on Dec. 2, 2008, Gates was asked to "clear up" his party affiliation.
"I felt, when I was at CIA, that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical, and so I didn't register with a party," Gates explained. "I consider myself a Republican. Until yesterday, all of my senior appointments have been under Republican presidents."
While that still left Obama technically one Republican short in his Cabinet, he put the issue to rest on Dec. 19 when he nominated Ray LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois, to serve as his secretary of transportation.
LaHood is a no-doubt-about-it Republican. In fact, he presided over the impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton. Heck, his son, Sam LaHood, worked on the McCain campaign.
"When I began this appointment process I said I was committed to finding the best person for the job regardless of party," Obama said at the Dec. 19 news conference. "Ray's appointment reflects that bipartisan spirit, the spirit we need to reclaim in the country to make progress for the American people, and a spirit that Ray has embodied in all of his years in public service."
Whether Obama has embraced a "bipartisan spirit" in his Cabinet picks is debatable. It is overwhelmingly Democratic. But he only promised at least one Republican. And by our count it's at least one, plus one with an asterisk. Promise kept.
U.S. Department of Defense, Media Roundtable with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates from the Pentagon Briefing Room , Arlington, Va., Dec. 2, 2008
Change.gov, the Office of the President-Elect, Obama's National Security Team press conference , Dec. 1, 2008
CNN, "Transcript: Obama Nominates Transportation & Labor Secretaries," Dec. 19, 2008
Wall Street Journal, "Obama Will be Hands-On Chief," Jan. 13, 2009