Obama Deflects Criticism About Lack of Diversity

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Obama nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to replace Clinton at the State Department after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is black, asked for her name to be removed from consideration. Republicans had blasted Rice over her initial comments about the attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who is Hispanic, stepped down last week, adding to a list of departures that includes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who is black. Obama has not yet announced who he will nominate to fill those roles. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is staying for Obama’s second term.

The president has announced his picks to fill two other top jobs, nominating former Sen. Chuck Hagel to run the Defense Department and Obama’s chief of staff, Jack Lew, to serve as treasury secretary. The two leading candidates to replace Lew at the White House are both male.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, who is of Japanese-American descent, will stay on, a White House official said last week. A spokesman for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that he too will keep his job in Obama’s second term.

An Education Department official also said Secretary Arne Duncan would remain in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet into a second term. That official disclosed the decision on the condition of anonymity because a public announcement had not been made.

(Photo: AP)

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