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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

(Update with Photos, Video) Richardson Accepts Commerce Secretary Nomination in English and Spanish

Photos from press conference

At this morning's Obama press conference in Chicago, the President-Elect gave a short speech announcing and explaining his choice of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for the Cabinet post of Secretary of Commerce. Obama Richardson a leading "economic diplomat for America. During his time in state government and Congress, and in two tours of duty in the Cabinet, Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better." Obama characterized Richardson as a key member of a team that lays the groundwork for renewed growth.

"In the end, Bill Richardson is a leader who shares my values ... I know that [he] will be an unyielding advocate for American business and American jobs, at home and around the world," said Obama.

You can read the full text of Obama's prepared remarks below the fold.

Obama and Richardson chuckle about beard question

Gov. Richardson then had a few minutes at the podium to thank Obama and lay out what he sees as the major responsibilities of the job. He did so in English and then in Spanish.

Click for video of Richardson's remarks in English and in Spanish.

Next, Obama called on several reporters who had questions about the financial crisis and other matters (see transcript). On a lighter note, one of them asked, "What happened with the beard, sir," referring to the fact that Richardson had recently shaved off the beard he'd had since leaving the presidential race. Obama remarked that he wished Richardson had kept the beard, a sentiment I and many others seem to share.

"We're deeply disappointed with the loss of the beard. I thought the whole Western rugged look was really working for him." For some reason, though, Richardson got rid of it. "Maybe it was scratchy when he kissed his wife," Obama said.

Responding to another question from the press, Obama dismissed a suggestion that Secretary of Commerce was a consolation prize for Richardson. “It’s a pretty good job,” Obama said. Richardson will be a key member of his economic team, Obama said, especially on the most pressing issue facing his administration: “how to put people back to work and rejuvenate the economy.”

The president-elect said he will count on Richardson’s help in creating strategies to create alternative energy jobs and open new markets for American goods and services. Helping the U.S. “to once again be in the forefront of innovation” will top his agenda, Richardson said. The Commerce Department is “the natural agency to serve as the programmatic nerve center in America’s struggle to rejuvenate our economy,” Richardson said.

Obama Delivers Remarks on Richardson Nomination
CQ Transcript Wire
Wednesday, December 3, 2008; 11:47 AM

OBAMA: Last week, Vice President-Elect Biden and I began the process of announcing our economic team. Today, we are pleased to name another key member of this team: our nominee for Secretary of Commerce, my friend, Governor Bill Richardson. With each passing day, the work our team has begun, developing plans to revive our economy, becomes more urgent. Earlier this week, we learned that the U.S. economy has been in recession since December of 2007 and that our manufacturing output is at a 26 year low - two stark reminders of the magnitude of the challenges we face.

But while I know rebuilding our economy won't be easy - and it won't happen overnight - I also know this: right now, somewhere in America, a small business is at work on the next big idea. A scientist is on the cusp of the next breakthrough discovery. An entrepreneur is sketching plans for the startup that will revolutionize an industry. Right now, across America, the finest products in the world are rolling off our assembly lines. And the proudest, most determined, most productive workers in the world are on the job - some, already on their second shift of the day; many, putting in longer hours than ever before.

After nearly two years traveling across this country, meeting with workers, visiting businesses large and small, I am more confident than ever before that we have everything we need to renew our economy - we have the ingenuity and technology, the skill and commitment - we just need to put it to work. It's time to not just address our immediate economic threats, but to start laying the groundwork for long-term economic prosperity - to help American businesses grow and thrive at home, and expand our efforts to promote American enterprise around the world.

This work is the core mission of the Secretary of Commerce. And with his breadth and depth of experience in public life, Governor Richardson is uniquely suited for this role as a leading economic diplomat for America.

During his time in state government and Congress, and in two tours of duty in the cabinet, Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better.

As Governor of New Mexico, Bill showed how government can act as a partner to support our businesses, helping create 80,000 new jobs. And under his leadership, New Mexico saw the lowest unemployment rate in decades.

As a former Secretary of Energy, Bill understands the steps we must take to build a new, clean-energy industry and create the green jobs of the twenty-first century. Jobs that pay well and won't be shipped overseas - jobs that will help us end our dependence on foreign oil.

And as a former Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill brings both international stature and a deep understanding of today's global economy. He understands that the success of today's business in Detroit or Columbus often depends on whether it can sell products in places like Santiago or Shanghai. And he knows that America's reputation in the world is critical not just to our security, but to our prosperity - that when the citizens of the world respect America's leadership, they are more likely to buy America's products. To this crucial work of restoring America's international standing, Bill will bring a leadership style all his own. Bill has never been content to learn just from briefing books - never satisfied with only the official version of the story. During his time in Congress, he held more than 2,500 town-hall meetings, so he could hear directly from constituents. He was a regular in the U.N. cafeteria, mixing it up with U.N. employees over lunch. And during his 2002 campaign for Governor, he actually broke a world record by shaking nearly 14,000 hands in just eight hours.

All of this reflects a determination to reach out and understand where people are coming from, what they hope for, and what he can do to help. This approach, I believe, has been the key to Bill's success as a negotiator and will be key to his work on the critical functions of the Commerce Department - from administering our census and monitoring our climate to protecting our intellectual property and restoring our economic diplomacy.

In the end, Bill Richardson is a leader who shares my values -- and he measures progress the same way I do. Are we creating good jobs, instead of losing them? Are incomes growing, instead of shrinking? I know that Bill will be an unyielding advocate for American business and American jobs, at home and around the world. And I look forward to working with him in the years ahead.

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Reuters.

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December 3, 2008 at 10:41 AM in Business, Economy, Populism, Obama Transition | Permalink


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