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Aide: Cabinet diversity concerns Obama

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Aide: Cabinet diversity concerns Obama
President Barack Obama (C) shakes hands with retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (L) as newly nominated Defense Secretary former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-ND) (2nd-L) shakes hands with newly nominated CIA Director John Brennan, during a ceremony where Obama announced their nominations in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC on January 7, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- President Obama's Cabinet nominations so far may not meet diversity requirements he set during his first term, but the White House urged patience.

"This president is committed to diversity," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "Look at the record. It is a vast improvement" over previous administrations.

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Concern remains however, about whether Obama's second-term Cabinet will be as diverse as his team during his first term, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Aides said Obama himself raised the point after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice removed herself from consideration as secretary of State, a post occupied by Hillary Clinton. Obama tapped Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as his choice to succeed Clinton.

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Obama values a team with a breadth of experience and knowledge, aides said. More than 40 percent of the president's appointees have been women, and the gender breakdown on the White House staff is 50-50, administration officials said.

"I think it would be useful to wait and make judgments about this issue after the president has made the totality of appointments that he will make in the transition to a second term," Carney said.

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Obama is expected to name his chief of staff, Jacob Lew, to lead the Treasury Department, and two men are leading candidates to succeed Lew. Earlier this week, Obama nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as Defense secretary and John Brennan as CIA director.

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When Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced Wednesday she was resigning, three Cabinet officials quickly announced they were staying -- Eric H. Holder Jr., the first black attorney general; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; and Veterans Affairs chief Eric K. Shinseki, who is Japanese American.

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