Obama taps Vilsack, Salazar for Cabinet

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President-elect Barack Obama named two Cabinet secretaries who will be tasked with preserving the nation’s resources, creating new “green” jobs and helping rural America.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, nominated Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado as secretary of the interior and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary.

“Together, they will serve as guardians of the American landscape on which the health of our economy and the well-being of our families so heavily depend,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday at a press conference in Chicago to announce his choices. “”These two gentleman are as accomplished a pair of public servants as we have in America.”

Mr. Obama said the nation must “grow advanced biofuels that will help make the United States energy independent.”

“How we harness our natural resources — from the farmlands of Iowa to the springs of Colorado — will speak not only to our quality of life, but to our economic growth and our energy future,” he said.

Mr. Obama said that Mr. Vilsack “led with vision” and “understands the solution to our energy crisis will be found not in oil fields abroad but in our farm fields here at home.”

Mr. Vilsack said that he aims to preserve natural resources and that he would help create new opportunities for rural areas.

He added his new department “must place nutrition at the center” of food programs.

“America’s farmers and ranchers” deserve someone in the post who “respects them,” Mr. Vilsack said.

He said the nation must be “truly dedicated to health and nutrition.”

“I look forward to serving Colorado, the West and the nation in this new capacity,” said Mr. Salazar, who sported a cowboy hat during the news conference.

Mr. Obama added that he and Mr. Salazar will make sure “tribal nations will have a voice” in his administration after he takes office Jan. 20.

Mr. Salazar becomes the second person of Hispanic origin in the Cabinet. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has been nominated as commerce secretary.

Mr. Vilsack ended his own presidential bid in early 2007, endorsing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He campaigned aggressively against Mr. Obama throughout the primary but later supported him during the general election.

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About the Author

Christina Bellantoni

Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...

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