Defensive President Obama Promises Diversity in Second Term

President Barack Obama responds to a question during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 14, 2013

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Washington, DC – President Barack Obama refuted criticism that he has abandoned diversity in his second term and urged his critics “not to rush to judgement” until all the appointments are announced.

“Until you’ve seen what my overall team looks like, it’s premature to assume that somehow we’re going backwards,” President Obama told White House correspondents at his last press conference of his first term, adding, “We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward.”

The four top announcements already made are male and white, in sharp contrast to the diverse population of women, Hispanics and minorities, including Indian Americans, who voted to give President Obama a second term.

The announcements to date are: Senator John Kerry to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; former Senator Chuck Hagel to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; White House Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan to head the CIA; and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. 

In addition, Hispanic Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced her intention to depart last week.

The voices of concern are originating from within his own Democratic Party as Rep. Charles Rangel, one of the longest serving African American members of Congress from New York, called the lack of diversity, “as embarrassing as hell.”

Countering the criticism, Obama listed the accomplishments of his high-profile first term cabinet members, saying, “I’m very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, White House and a cabinet than any in history.”

“I intended to continue that, because it turns out when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you’re going to end up with a diverse staff,” said Obama.

Raj Shah, the USAID czar, is the top level Indian American in the Obama Administration and no decision has been made about his future in the second term.

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