Providing some much-needed political cover for President Clinton, Defense Secretary William Perry will propose a plan to challenge the base closing commission's recommendation to shut down McClellan Air Force Base, which would cost Sacramento 11,000 jobs. The President is trying to find a way to preserve jobs in a state vital to his reelection campaign. Perry will propose shutting down the base, but preserving at least half the jobs by allowing the Air Force to contract work from the base with local companies. "Perry may be presenting this plan," says TIME'sJ.F.O. McAllister, "but it was probably written in the White House." It's a risky strategy, according to McAllister. "Privatization looks good, like he's supporting free enterprise, but he could anger a lot of people in other states who will ask why he didn't work as hard to save their bases."