Interesting question and answer in the Q&A following Obama’s announcement and Richardson’s acceptance.
Vincente: Thank you Mr. President Elect. What do you think about the articles like the one today in the New York Times that say or mention that the announcement of Bill Richardson for Secretary of Commerce is somehow the consolation prize for Latinos and Hispanic politicians and groups are calling Latinos to be included in your cabinet. It seems many were expecting or hoping that Bill Richardson was going to be Secretary of State.
Obama: Commerce Secretary is a pretty good job. It’s a member of my key economic team that is going to be dealing with the most significant issue that America faces right now. And that is ‘how do we put people back to work and rejuvenate the economy?’ Bill Richardson has been selected because he is the best person for that job and is going to be outstanding in helping me strategize on how do we rebuild America, how do we get businesses moving, how do we export effectively, how do we open up new markets for American products and services? His mixture of diplomatic experience, hands-on experience as a governor, experience in the cabinet, experience in Congress, means that he is going to be a key strategist on all the issues that we work on. And so the so I think the notion that somehow the Commerce Secretary is not going to be central to everything we do is fundamentally mistaken. With respect to Latino cabinet members I have appointed about half of my cabinet so far. And I think that when people look back and see the entire slate what they will say is not only in terms of my cabinet but in terms of my but in terms of my White House staff I think people are going to say this is one of the most diverse cabinets and White House staffs of all time. But more importantly they’re going to say that these are all people of outstanding qualifications and excellence. So you know one of the strong beliefs that I’ve always held and has been proven to be correct throughout my career has been that there’s no contradiction between diversity and excellence. I’m looking for the best people first and foremost to serve the American people. It just so happens that Bill Richardson’s one of those people.