Obama Nominates Anthony Foxx as New Transportation Secretary

Charlotte, N.C., mayor announced to replace Ray LaHood as member of president's cabinet.
3:00 | 04/29/13

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Transcript for Obama Nominates Anthony Foxx as New Transportation Secretary
This is a special report from ABC news. Let -- -- -- ribeiro in new York and this is an ABC news digital special reports after a -- weekend in Washington is back in business today. As President Obama -- -- is the newest addition to his second term cabinet. Charlotte mayor Anthony -- if confirmed -- would take over the Transportation Department becoming just the second African American in any administration after attorney general Eric Holder. Diversity in the White House or a perceived lack of it has been -- concern to some members of congress. And here is President Obama. Well good afternoon everybody. -- -- Has being the secretary of transportation is the best job you ever had in public service. And that's fitting because -- maybe the best sector transportation. The nation's ever had. From the -- that he was sworn in -- -- fought tirelessly to rebuild America's infrastructure. Creating good jobs and strengthen the economy. And allow us to better -- In the global economy. Over the past four years thanks to raise leadership we've built or improved more than 350000. Miles -- Enough to circle. The world more than fourteen times. We've operated more than 6000 miles memorial. Enough to go coast to coast and back. We repair. Or replace more than 40000. Bridges. And help put tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job and that's all due in no small part to railroads leadership. So every American can thank -- for his dedication to make our transportation system just stronger but also sake. When it comes to. His focused attention on the dangers of distracted driving for example. It's saving lives. And on a personal -- rate lahood has been. A good friend of mine for many years. Him before he served in my cabinet we serve to together in congress. He's a Republican I'm a Democrat. These days that sometimes keeps folks apartment. Were always brought -- and I together was assured belief. That those of us who serve in public service -- allegiance not a party but some people who. Elected. Two represented. And it helps that were from the same state. Raised from -- I'm from Chicago but. -- we both -- the state of Illinois and you know we both. Get out there on the golf course we're not very good but. Don't take ourselves too seriously. He he is a good man and has been an outstanding public servant and a model. Four of the kind of bipartisan approach to governance. But I think we need so badly in this town so. Rail on a personal level I could not be more grateful to -- For your service. Now unfortunately for us but fortunately for them. -- is now looking forward to spending more time -- his wife Kathy. And their family especially hold -- -- grandchildren. And so today I'm proud to announce my intent to nominate. Another impressive leader to carry on his great work of the Department of Transportation. The mayor unsure what my friend. From North Carolina mr. Anthony -- -- -- reflects the values he learned were. Up in west Sharaud -- was raised by. -- single mom and his grand parents. I should -- by the way that is grandmothers here and she informed me that she worked here in the White House in the Truman administrations. Ago. So she's just coming back. And and so the the values the fans still remember. -- take pride and hard work. Take responsibility for your actions to take care of your community. And over the past three and a half years those values helped Anthony become one of the most effective mayors. That -- oversee. When Anthony became mayor in 2009 Charlotte like the rest of the country was going through -- bruising. Economic crisis. But the city's managed to turn things around. The economy's growing. There -- more jobs more opportunity and if you ask -- how that happened. He'll tell you -- one of the reasons is Charlemagne one of the largest investments in transportation. In the city's history. Since after he took office they've broken ground on new streetcar project that's gonna bring modern electric tram service to the downtown area. They've expanded the international airport and they are expanding the city's light rail system. All of that has not only helped create new jobs. -- helped Charlotte become. More attractive to business so I know -- his experience will make him an outstanding transportation secretary he's got the respect of his peers mayors and governors all across the country. And as a consequence. I think that. He's going to be extraordinarily effective one of the things that -- taught me. And watching him do his job is that establishing personal relationships with the mayors and governors. Accounting. Executives makes all the difference in the world because. Transportation is one of those things -- it's happening on the ground and -- the federal government's got to be responsive. And has to understand what it's like. When you're mayor or governor. Or county executive trying to get these projects up and running which also means that we have potential of continue to streamline -- approvals -- get rid of some. Sometimes difficulties implementing. Slow projects down because we want to give people back to work and warned of this country so I am actually confident that. Anthony is gonna do an outstanding job I want to thank his. Mom -- on and lovely wife too good looking kids for. Being willing to serve as well and I hope that the senate confirms him quickly because we've got a lot of work to do. Our top priority as a nation right now is doing everything we can -- economy and create good jobs. And rebuild opportunity for the middle class and one of the best ways we can do that is to put more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure. So that's why in -- State of the Union Address I've proposed a fixed first program to put. More people to work as soon as possible are most urgent repairs. And to make sure taxpayers don't shoulder the entire burden I've also proposed partnership with the private sector. But congress has to step up on these projects they need to do it right away. We need to modernize the infrastructure that powers our economy we need more high speed rail Internet. Hi tech schools and self healing power grids bridges and tunnels imports. And -- ship products all around the world -- -- with three proud words made in America. That's -- attract more businesses that's an old print more jobs tower and stay competitive in the global economy. It's ago two Ray LaHood and his entire family I want to thank you for. Just doing an extraordinary job. Anthony and his family I want to thank you guys. For agreeing to serve. And I know that today's announcement is not. The biggest thing that. Anthony's family's got wrong next week as tomorrow's. -- -- birthday. We're happy that we can kick off celebration here in the right. And -- that what I'd like to do is ask both of them just a few words starting with are outstanding current. Sector transportation mystery -- President. Your staff told me I only have one minute. And since this is the last time will be at this podium from a take a little bit more than one minute. I know they won't forgive me but I know you well I think there's no way there's no way. I can -- thank you. For the opportunity that you have provided. To -- Write the final chapter in my book of service businesses. You're right it's the best job I've ever had. And if you're not the best person I've ever worked for your right at the top of the list you've been extraordinary. And I know that. Every mayor in America. Is -- today. Because one of the errors. Will become the secretary of transportation. And what do messages sent around the country what you say to every city is that -- town city's count. And Anthony Foxx -- fox will do a great job. Quality transportation choices can mean a better job -- better schools for our families across -- fox -- that. And I'm confident he'll do a terrific job. And the other thing Mr. President is more than four years ago on a very cold day in Chicago you kind of roll the dice on Ray LaHood. I'm not sure you really -- other than our friendship. And that I was a lousy golfer. Whether I'd be a good secretary of transportation we gave is planning a license to be a good secretary of transportation. And we have been very proud. To carry out your vision and very proud. To be. The sixteenth secretary of transportation. We the president I did not share -- political parties. As he said -- -- Republican and he's a Democrat. But what we did share. While we served in congress from Illinois is a friendship. A deep friendship. And that friendship has become much stronger over the last four and a half years. And so I just wanted -- name for things. That I think we've been able to do there -- many more than four but we put a great team of people together -- fox you are gonna inherit. Some of the smartest brightest hard working people. At the Department of Transportation. We've worked hard for four and a half years to carry out the president's agenda. And one thing that we're very proud in three and a half years of -- in the president told us. Within thirty days of his being sworn in to his first term. Raise the cafe standards. And what we're -- is it by 20/20 five. Every car and light truck and America will get 54 point five miles per gallon. And that it didn't take one -- congress -- -- -- a little bit leadership here and a little bit leadership and EPA in DOT and we made it happen. That will be part of president Obama's legacy what a legacy cleaning up the air and America. Getting cleaner burning cars that's a big deal. We also have spent a lot of time on safety and I guess will be known poor. Trying to persuade people to put their cell phones in their blackberries down while they're driving. -- right at the start indeed on this distracted driving is an epidemic. We spent a lot of time working on it and I hope that -- fox will continue. I think -- the crowning glory for the president. And he's gonna have many legacies. But his transportation legacy will be. High speed rail and America bringing passenger rail all over America. And let me tell you what I mean by that I visited eighteen countries and last warning have -- looking at high speed rail in the common thread. Throughout every country is a national vision. National leadership. National commitment and that's what the president provided. Over the last four and a half years. What he's said to America is we know you want a different kind of transportation. And Lincoln started the rail system. In America. Obama -- has started high speed rail in America. What a great. We're proud of that vision Mr. President thank you for him. Thank you for really given a scene courage meant to continue to carry on. So obviously. It goes without saying. When I talked to the president right after his reelection about the fact that I was very conflict did. -- -- This job not not about the job and about the fact that I'd like to stay but I told him. Kathleen had been married 46 years and she wins out on this one he said give me your cell number -- -- -- -- Nice to know Mr. President I don't want you to do -- okay. I don't want you to hear all these arguments that she's gonna make to you. So this I am -- -- about this but is the right decision for our family we've been in public service 35 years. And we think that we've done -- the right way we've done it in a bipartisan way in a way that reflects the best values of America so. The final pages of my book of service. I think will be remembered for bipartisanship. First serving in one of the most historic administrations. In the history of our country. And I am so pleased that the president gave us an opportunity to have a front row seat on watching history. In -- front proceeds. On making a little history. And in -- an opportunity that we will never ever forget. And so. We leave while they're still applauding which is not always easy in public service. They're not only applauding for me there -- probably for President Obama. And the team of people that he put in place here. That's what they're applauding for. And so we go -- -- -- applauding and we go out also. With the fact that my successor. Will continue to do a great job. Representing America representing the American people representing President Obama and his vision for putting people back to work for giving the economy going and for continuing. What we've tried to start at the Department of Transportation is my pleasure. To introduce the next the seventeenth. Secretary. Of transportation. When he's confirmed. Which is always what we have to say it's a little thing around here. When he's confirmed he'll be the seventeenth secretary of transportation and he will do a great job the mayor of Charlotte Anthony Foxx. Thank you Mr. President you. I am humbled. An honor to be your nominee for secretary of transportation. As mayor I note two things. First. Over the last four years. Cities have had no better partners. Than you Mr. President. And you mr. secretary. Ray LaHood. You have drawn the admiration and appreciation of America's mayors. Particularly. Secretary lahood for Europe -- -- vision and no nonsense approach and out of -- entire team. If confirmed I would do my absolute best to uphold the standards you -- -- -- the US Department of Transportation. The second thing I know. Is that there is no such thing as a democratic. Or Republican wrote. Bridge. -- Airfield. Or rail system. We must work together. Across party lines to enhance this nation's infrastructure. I stand here today with many people to thank most especially my -- -- My two children Hillary and Zachary. My mother and my grandmother all of whom are here with us today. I also want to thank the wonderful people Sharaa. The fastest growing area of our country. I know well the opportunities in the challenges of maintaining and improving infrastructure. And providing good transportation choices. And throughout my service in Charlotte. -- work tune -- to use infrastructure to put Charlotte and therefore our country. On the path of job growth today. And tomorrow. Mr. President. I look forward to engaging with members of congress on both sides of the aisle during the confirmation process. If confirmed I work with you. With congress with states. Local governments and of course the great team at the US Department of Transportation. To keep the wheels of our national renewal turning. Thank you again for your confidence in me mister president. -- -- -- -- -- replacement the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina Anthony Foxx. Lahood also spoke about his tenure praising the president's plan to bring high speed rail to the country Anthony Foxx then thanked the president for his nomination. As we mentioned earlier there has been some talk about a lack of diversity in president Obama's second term White House. Even comedian Conan O'Brien and that Saturday night's correspondents dinner took a shot of his own. I don't -- army served. Mean you're starting to look like -- judge -- law -- order. Just say you're on thin ice counts -- you can have that part right away seriously Mr. President your hair's so white it could be a member of your cabinet. He can handle it. To leave it -- -- and a that we are joined by ABC news political director Rick Klein high direct effect yes and brilliantly -- yeah Saturday. -- say exactly sound like he may have hit a nerve there. He did it and it's actually -- real sore spot for this White House is this is one of the ironies of of the critique that they've gotten the first African American president. Has eighty cabinet that doesn't reflect that same kind of diversity he's been criticized for having an all white male. Credible voice club atmosphere in that White House. And there's something else about Anthony -- that that's remarkable not just that he's African American also his -- affected. The president mentioned he's having is birthday he'll be just 42 years of age. And he is something of an endangered species right now inside the Democratic Party in the -- of Obama for all of president Obama's success. There are very few up and coming rising African American democratic politicians right now Anthony Foxx is in that crowd he will have -- -- an even higher profile as a cabinet secretary has a very bright future so I think there is. That elements of naming this particular mayor at this time for this White House. To be tapping someone who they know is going to be around in democratic politics for a long time absolutely what we know -- -- -- what is his record like at Charlotte's mayor. Charlotte has been booming in in -- time that he is there there's a lot of new money driven by the banking industry despite the setbacks -- they got Charlotte continues to grow it also host of the Democratic National Convention last year and that is a very difficult thing for a city to do. I've been in convention cities that got high marks and very low marks I think Charlotte. Notwithstanding a rainstorm that fought that forced the the nomination itself inside got really high marks for being kind of a mid size city get -- fast growing city. That is doing a lot of the infrastructure problems that cities around the country are trying to put in. New mass transit for instance that something that he has been at the forefront on and he -- work closely with the federal government during the Obama years to do that -- the guys the president said preservation takes place on the ground he needs the air -- -- health. Particularly the infrastructure things that -- -- -- -- for the federal government in Iraq for transportation and that's -- a mayor like mayor Foxx has firsthand experience. Indeed and so fox today and there could be more nominations in the coming days what are the names that you're hearing. Well there are a number of their number jobs that are still open right now we know for -- for instance though that the attorney general Eric Holder is likely to say the Department of Homeland Security secretary. Jack in the -- on -- is also likely to say so when the sort of running out of spots aren't that many being positions that are left in flux right now. More than we're gonna look at the ambassador's ranks -- and that's where there are a number of bigger openings Caroline Kennedy still in talks about potentially becoming ambassador to Japan -- the second the second term team the inner circle. For Obama is beginning close to being finished right now and -- of course this adds that that those of diversity that we talked. Of course and a bus you know there's also been criticism over those ambassador appointments in the past as well -- hearing some of those same. Inside baseball criticisms. Every president gets it because that the fact of the matter is the way to you get on the short list for the sort of -- -- plum jobs these are. Highly coveted in Western Europe for other allies is that the United States has. If you're a donor you raise a lot of money for the president you support them and -- high profile fashion career civil service ten against cents a hot spots into. It's a very difficult locations but loyalists tend to fill the other ranks and particularly in a second term. Where you're not worried about perceptions as much did you hear that blow back that you can match up that big donor list and you have a pretty good idea what the short list this for ambassador -- -- is certainly a fun job that's for sure are all right ABC news political director Rick Klein thank you so much for that thank you. -- -- quick recap Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx has been nominated to be president Obama's new secretary of transportation if confirmed the 42 year old become just the second African American in this second Obama administration. For more keep reading at abcnews.com. For now we're gonna return you to your regularly scheduled programming I'm Tanya -- in New York. This has been a special report from ABC news --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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