Obama picks Vilsack, Salazar for Cabinet
Chicago (AP) — On a pre-holiday push to fill his Cabinet, President-elect Barack Obama announced Wednesday his choices of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to be agriculture secretary and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar to lead the Interior Department.
"It is time for a new kind of leadership in Washington that's committed to using our lands in a responsible way to benefit all of our families," Obama said in a news conference, his third in as many days to announce Cabinet choices.
On another subject, Obama said "it's a little bit frustrating" to not talk in detail about the investigation into charges that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich schemed to name Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate based on who offered the best political or financial deal. Blagojevich was arrested last week by the FBI.
Neither Obama nor anyone on his team have been accused of any wrongdoing in the probe. But the president-elect has directed transition aides to detail who on his side had contact, and what kind, with Blagojevich or his staff.
"There's been a lot of speculation in the press that I would love to correct immediately," Obama said in response to a question. He said his team is "abiding by the request of the U.S. attorney" to not release the results of the internal investigation, already compiled, until next week. "It's not going to be that long," Obama said.
For the agriculture and interior departments - which oversee federal farming and lands policies - Obama said his approach will be to "serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence peddlers but family farmers and the American people."
He said this means promoting not only development but protection of environmental treasures and expanding not only the agricultural industry but new energy sources.
"I am confident we have the team we need to make the rural agenda America's agenda, to create millions of new green jobs, to free our nation from its dependence on oil and to help preserve this planet for our children," Obama said.
Transition officials say more announcements are likely this week before Obama heads to Hawaii for Christmas vacation with his family.