In an interview with Univision’s New York City affiliate on Tuesday, President Obama said he'd most definitely “want to know” if NYC Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly had an interest in heading up the Department of Homeland Security, reports the Hill.
“Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he's not I'd want to know about it, because obviously he'd be very well qualified for the job,” Obama said.
Obama touted Kelly as “one of the best there is” and an “outstanding leader in New York.”
“Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York and the federal government partners a lot with New York,” Obama said.
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Kelly’s name first surfaced as a possible choice for Homeland Security Secretary last Friday, after Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he had contacted White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and recommended Kelly for the post after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced she would step down later this week.
“The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government,” Schumer said in a statement.
“Its leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three.”
Schumer also noted Kelly’s tenure as commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service from 1998 to 2001, saying that experience could calm possible Republican misgivings about the next White House nominee's record on border issues.
Noting that the job of Homeland Security Secretary was “one of the toughest jobs in Washington,” Obama said he was sure that the White House would “have a bunch of strong candidates” to choose from when it was time to pick Napolitano’s successor.
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