Washington governor tapped for Commerce

Feb. 25, 2009 at 12:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, hoping the third time's a charm, presented former Washington Gov. Gary Locke as his choice for U.S. Commerce secretary Wednesday.

"Gary will be a trusted voice in my Cabinet, a tireless advocate for our economic competitiveness and an influential ambassador for American industry," Obama said of the nation's first Chinese-American governor.

As he flew from Seattle to Washington, Locke said he thought of all of the struggling businesses and families who were hurting because of the nation's economic swoon.

"The Department of Commerce plays a critical role in nurturing innovation, expanding global markets, protecting and managing our ocean fisheries and fostering economic growth," Locke said. "The Department of Commerce can and will help create the jobs and the economic vitality our nation needs."

Obama poked some fun at himself about the lack of a Commerce Department chief. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew because of a federal investigation into allegations of "pay to play" in the state and U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., pulled out of consideration, citing philosophical differences.

"Now, I'm sure it's not lost on anyone that we've tried this a couple of times but I'm a big believer in keeping at something until you get it right," he said. "And Gary is the right man for this job."

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