Obama Cabinet Pick Could Dull Diversity Criticism

8:24 AM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx (AP)
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Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON--With his pick of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be his next Transportation Secretary, President Obama has decided to tap a young mayor from one of the country's most vibrant cities to join his nearly completed second-term Cabinet.

Foxx, 41, raised his national profile after the Queen City hosted last year's Democratic National Convention.

White House officials, who said that the president will announce the pick on Monday, noted that during Foxx's time in City Hall Charlotte broke ground on the Charlotte Streetcar Project, a third parallel runaway at Charlotte-Douglass International Airport was opened, and he worked to extend the LYNX light rail system to University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

But the pick of Foxx, who holds the distinction of being Charlotte's youngest elected mayor and second African-American mayor in the city's history, also could help Obama dull criticism over the racial diversity of his cabinet.

Earlier this month, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., criticized Obama for failing to pick any African-Americans among his early picks for his second-term cabinet.

"Four months into his second term, we look to the president's Cabinet appointments only to find that he has once again overlooked his most loyal constituency,'' Thompson said while delivering the Congressional Black Caucus' weekly radio address.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also complained in a letter to Obama last month that his recent Cabinet nominees "have hardly been reflective of this country's diversity.''

Obama was even ribbed by the comedian Conan O'Brien at Saturday's White House Correspondents Association's annual dinner in Washington over the lack of diversity in his Cabinet.

"Mr. President, your hair is so white it could be a member of your Cabinet," O'Brien said.

If confirmed, Foxx would become the second African-American in Obama's second term Cabinet, joining Attorney General Eric Holder, a first term holdover.

The president has boasted of the diversity in his White House and urged critics not to judge the makeup of his Cabinet until he completed his picks.

"I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they've seen all my appointments before they rush to judgment," Obama said during a news conference Jan. 14.

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