Jarrett: Diversity to come in Obama Cabinet posts
POSTED: Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 9:30pm
UPDATED: Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 9:34pm
CNN — As President Barack Obama prepared to be sworn in on inauguration weekend, the White House continued to promise diversity as the president formulates his second term Cabinet.
"His Cabinet when he's finished - and he's far from finished - will have diversity including women, including people of color," Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said on CNN from the White House shortly before Obama took the Oath of Office.
The president has come under fire for, thus far, nominating mostly white men to cabinet positions. A White House released photo of Obama meeting with advisers, mostly white men, drew further criticism when it ran in the New York Times. The White House released another photo of the president meeting with a more diverse group of staffers.
One of his most trusted aides, Jarrett said in this case "One picture does not speak a thousand words."
"He believes he makes his best decisions when he is surrounded by people who have different perspectives and give him their best ideas," she said. "I spent a lot of time in the Oval Office and I'm in there with a great number of women who he listens to and whose council and advice he trusts greatly."
"The president has been surrounded by strong women throughout his entire life; raised by a single mom; lived for a while with his grandmother who was a great role model for him, obviously married to a very competent wife and his first Cabinet reflected the diversity of our country," she said.
Jarrett pointed to both Nancy-Ann DeParle, Obama's deputy chief of staff, who helped craft the president's signature healthcare initiative in his first term and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in charge of the Affordable Care Act's implementation in the president's second term, as examples of women taking on major roles within the administration.
Since winning re-election Obama has made a number of high-profile nominations for cabinet posts, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for secretary of state to replace Hillary Clinton who has said she will leave her post in the administration.
Originally, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was considered a favorite for the position but withdrew her name following intense criticism for her initial comments on the handling of the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel has been tapped for secretary of defense, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew has been nominated to be secretary of the treasury and chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan is Obama's choice to head the C.I.A. All three of these positions were headed by men in Obama's last term.
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.