Richardson joins cabinet, others rumored

RICHARDSON JOINS CABINET, OTHERS RUMORED…. As expected, Barack Obama introduced Bill Richardson as his choice for Secretary of Commerce at an event in Chicago this morning. Obama, who ran against the New Mexico governor for the Democratic nomination, cited Richarson’s “breadth and depth of experience in public life,” making him “uniquely suited” to serve as the “economic diplomat for America.”

As Tim Fernholz noted about Richardson, “For a man who once broke the world record for number of hands shook in eight hours, it seems like he’s now gunning for number of cabinet posts held in one lifetime.” (For those keeping score at home, this will be Richardson’s third cabinet spot, after having served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary.)

During the Q&A, a reporter — I believe it was Telemundo’s Vicente Serrano — noted that some in the Latino community hoped that Richardson would be Secretary of State, and asked whether this was a “consolation prize.” Obama responded by explaining the significance of the Secretary of Commerce, and added that his cabinet, which is only half full, will emphasize diversity.

“When people look back and see the entire slate, what they will say not only in terms of my cabinet, but in terms of my White House staff, I think people are going to say this is one of the most diverse cabinets and White House staffs of all time. But more importantly I think they’re going to say these are all people of outstanding qualifications and excellence,” he said. “There’s no contradiction between diversity and excellence.”

Also during the Q&A, Obama took a question from Fox News’ Wendell Goler, who asked about the Treasury’s use of TARP funds. This was mainly notable because no one from Fox News had been called on during Obama’s four five previous press conferences.

In other cabinet news:

* Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) is rumored to be a leading candidate for the position of U.S. Trade Representative.

* Former ambassador Richard Holbrooke, best known as the broker of the Dayton accords, is reportedly being eyed for a major diplomatic role in South Asia.

* Mary Beth Maxwell, founding executive director of American Rights at Work, is reportedly being considered for Labor Secretary.

* And Pennsylvania Judge Nelson Diaz is apparently on the short list to serve as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.