Obama Names Clinton Sec. Of State President-elect Barack Obama also formally nominated Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.

Obama Names Clinton Sec. Of State

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From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Alex Cohen.


I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, the CEOs of the Big Three automakers return to Washington looking for a bailout. In the meantime, car dealerships struggle to stay open.

COHEN: First though, today, President-elect Barack Obama held another press conference in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. He formally announced a nomination that's been talked about for some time now. He's chosen Senator Hillary Clinton to be the next secretary of state.

President-elect BARACK OBAMA: I assembled this team because I'm a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I think that's how the best decisions are made. One of the dangers in a White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in groupthink, and everybody agrees with everything, and there's no discussion, and there are no dissenting views. So, I'm going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House, but understand, I will be setting policy as president.

COHEN: Joining us now from Chicago is NPR's Don Gonyea. Don, during the primaries, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had some pretty tough words for one another. Did Mr. Obama make any reference to that today?

DON GONYEA: Well, he was asked specifically about statements he made about Senator Clinton during the tough campaign where she would point to her time as first lady as, in fact, being foreign policy experience. And during the campaign, he belittled that. And at one point during the campaign, her time traveling while her husband was in the White House was described as, you know, little more than attending teas.

President-elect Obama was asked specifically about those comments today. He laughed. He said, hey, the press likes to have fun picking up old quotes. To which Peter Baker of the New York Times responded, well, sir, those are your quotes. Then he said, yes, and you're having fun with it. He said, it's not that it's not fair to do it, but he said he and Senator Clinton are clearly on the same page in terms of what America's posture and position in the world needs to be.

COHEN: Hillary Clinton also spoke at this press conference. What did she have to say?

GONYEA: She said she was deeply honored for this job that she has been nominated for. She also gave a farewell to New York, thanking New York for sending her to the United States Senate. She talked about how serving New York is great preparation to be secretary of state. She said New Yorkers are not afraid to speak their mind, and they do it loud, and they do it in every language. So, that got a pretty good laugh from everybody up on the stage.

COHEN: Don, what other announcements came out of today's press briefing?

GONYEA: Well, we have retired General James Jones to be the national security adviser. His family, he pointed out, has served in the military going back to 1939, so generation after generation.

A lot of these announcements today we knew were coming. Eric Holder will be the first African-American United States attorney general. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano will be Department of Homeland Security. Robert Gates, the current defense secretary, will stay on in that job.

At one point, President-elect Obama was asked if that qualifies as his now having a Republican in his cabinet. He said he didn't check Mr. Gates's voter registration. But, again, he feels he is an important voice to have on his team.

COHEN: NPR's Don Gonyea speaking to us from Chicago, Illinois. Thanks, Don.

GONYEA: My pleasure.

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