The Washington Times - April 5, 2009, 06:48PM

With the president traveling abroad, I had some time this week to work on other projects, including a profile of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.



I got to know a bit more about the former Arizona governor, and one thing stood out when I was doing my reporting.


I interviewed a bunch of Napolitano’s former colleagues and even professors, and they all said they want to see her run for president seven years from now, which was not something I’d really considered.


But check out a reelection commercial she ran in Arizona in 2006 - - which includes a cameo from her dad.


The profile ran today in our Sunday tabloid section. Read to the end to see her reaction to the presidential run speculation. Here’s the beginning:


Thirty years ago, Janet Napolitano stood before her college classmates a confident young woman with no idea the valedictory speech she was about to deliver would one day symbolize her career in public service.

The speech reprised the social justice and civil rights theme of a paper she’d written her final year before Santa Clara University graduates selected her as their first female valedictorian.

“Most valedictory speeches are not memorable, but she found a way to capture what it is to be an engaged citizen and a public intellectual,” said Janet Flammang, current chairwoman of Santa Clara’s political science department.

“She was calling on her 22-year-old colleagues to understand the rules, and when things aren’t working, you have an obligation to change them,” Ms. Flammang recalled of her star student. “Every single leadership quality that she has shown today, she showed as an undergrad.”

Now, as Homeland Security secretary for President Obama, Ms. Napolitano’s own colleagues view her as valedictorian of the Cabinet.

Full story here.


Another thing I learned - there’s a bit of a contest among the Cabinet secretaries when it comes to cowboy boots. Napolitano has two pairs.


“There’s a little bit of competition going on in the Cabinet for best cowboy boots,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told me, noting that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and OMB Director Peter Orszag are often seen sporting them.


“My judgment so far is that Janet is leading the pack,” Donovan said.


President Obama returns to Washington late Tuesday.


Jon Ward, on the overseas trip, filed a blog with some cool video of the helicopter ride into Germany. Check it out.


I’ll be doing an online chat Monday - please submit a question by clicking on the link here. It only takes a second to register and our reporters do them regularly.


 Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times


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