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RUBIN CALLED HONEST MAN WITH NO EGO

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On the surface, Robert Rubin hardly seems the type to have accumulated a personal fortune in the hard-charging world of Wall Street.

Rubin, who made $26 million in private life the year before he joined the administration in 1993, has a reputation as one of the most self-effacing power brokers in Washington.Slightly rumpled and sad-eyed, Rubin, 56, has headed President Clinton's National Economic Council with the task of creating harmony between more than a dozen turf-conscious agencies.

"He's exceedingly well equipped for this job," former Democratic National Committee Chairman Robert Strauss once said of Rubin. "He has no ego."

Rubin undoubtedly will need all the skills of a low-key negotiator and more in his new assignment, the much more public role of guiding the Treasury and being the administration's chief spokesman on economic policy.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Lloyd Bentsen, who was fond of saying it was a great time to be Treasury secretary. Rubin's tenure could be more troubled.

Rubin, while qualified, "doesn't have the rapport with Congress that Secretary Bentsen did and especially not in the Senate," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who will be the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee,

But incoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., supported the nomination enthusiastically.

"I've known Bob Rubin for many years," Dole said in a statement. "He's a man of honesty and integrity who is certainly qualified to be Treasury secretary. I look forward to supporting his nom-i-na-tion."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also said he likes what he sees. "He shares many of Secretary Bentsen's moderate views," Hatch said.

In some parting advice, Bentsen warned his successor to be wary of getting into a deficit-expanding bidding contest with Republicans over middle-class tax cuts.

But Bentsen said he's not concerned about handing over the reins to Rubin. "He's dealt with giant egos on Wall Street. He'll be able to deal with them here," he said.

Rubin has spent nearly his entire career inside one of Wall Street's most powerful money machines, the prestigious investment firm of Goldman, Sachs & Co. He joined the company in 1966.

Rubin is still a New Yorker. He lives in a hotel suite five blocks from the White House and commutes home to his wife in New York on weekends.