by Andie Diemer
Dec. 1, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama is rounding out his national security team and appointed former campaign rival Hillary Clinton as secretary of state during a press conference Monday. He also announced he will keep the Bush administration’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates on in the same position and named former Justice Department official Eric Holder as attorney general.
“She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and toughness and a remarkable work ethic,” Obama said when he introduced Clinton. “She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world’s leaders, who will command respect in every capital and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.”
Retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones will fill in as national security adviser, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and campaign foreign policy adviser Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.
Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle will step up as Secretary of Health and Human Services and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will act as commerce secretary.
“I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions,” Obama said during the press conference.
These individuals will work as the top echelon of advising for Obama on foreign and national security issues during a global “war on terror.”
While Obama said he is going to welcome “a vigorous debate inside the White House,” he reconfirmed he will still be setting policy as the president.
“I will be responsible for the vision that this team carries out, and I will expect them to implement that vision once decisions are made,” he said.
With half of his 15-member Cabinet in place, Obama is continuing to rapidly name those who will accompany him in office only a month after Election Day.
The most important roles at State, Justice, Treasury and Defense have all been instated.
“[My appointees] share my pragmatism about the use of power and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world,” he said.
The national security appointments were made just a week after his economic team was named, which will be led by Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary.
Obama said this is all in an effort to be able to “hit the ground running” when he is inaugurated on Jan. 20.