- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama formally announced he has chosen Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to lead the Democratic National Committee, with both men talking about the need to move pass ideology to solve the nation’s problems.

Mr. Kaine, in his last year as governor of Virginia, was one of Mr. Obama’s early endorsers and was a chief adviser and campaigner during the election.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Kaine shares his “pragmatic progressive philosophy.”

Mr. Kaine said he has three goals in the new role - to be a “passionate and positive promoter” of Mr. Obama’s agenda, to “carry the proud banner of a proud party” and to “creatively engage citizens in new ways.”

Mr. Kaine, wearing a red-and-blue striped tie, offered no partisan hits at Republicans, instead talking about the need to “unify people.” He said Virginia Democrats are not ideologues but rather, problem-solvers.

The president-elect noted Mr. Kaine is his “good friend,” and has appealed to “common hopes” as governor.

Mr. Obama praised outgoing Chairman Howard Dean for his work leading the DNC for several years, saying he “deserves enormous credit for helping usher in” change to Washington.

They offered no details about how the work of the DNC will be structured, and the men faced a frustrated group of reporters after deciding to take no questions at an event dubbed a “press conference.”

Reporters were informed in a Wednesday evening email that “President-Elect Barack Obama and Governor Tim Kaine to Hold Press Conference Tomorrow at the DNC,” an event that required an RSVP.

The word spread that the event would be question-less as reporters arrived at the DNC headquarters near the U.S. Capitol and settled into assigned seats, as some networks had been informed earlier Thursday there would be no questions.

But it was not until 3:37 p.m. that Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt informed reporters the men would “not be taking questions” despite the billing of the event.

It was the second time Mr. Obama spoke Thursday without taking questions. He gave a speech Thursday in Northern Virginia to sell his economic stimulus plan to the public.

However, Mr. Obama has held a record number of 16 press conferences, taking more than 60 questions since winning the election Nov. 4.

They left the room without taking questions after the announcement, which lasted 10 minutes.

Staffers who heard reporters shout questions at Mr. Obama as he turned from the podium announced he will be doing an availability Friday at his transition headquarters.

“He’ll take questions there,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

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