Political Notebook

Obama set to name Richardson

December 3, 2008
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CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama plans to name New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as his choice for commerce secretary today, adding another former campaign rival and Clintonite to his cabinet, Democratic officials said.

The Democratic officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the announcement hasn't been made, said Richardson will join Obama at a news conference in Chicago.

One of the nation's most prominent Hispanic politicians, Richardson served as energy secretary and United Nations ambassador in President Bill Clinton's administration. He was a contender for secretary of state, but Obama offered him the post as commerce secretary after choosing former first lady Hillary Clinton as his top diplomat.

Richardson sought the Democratic presidential nomination this year, but eventually dropped out. When he rebuffed the Clintons - including the former president, who watched the Super Bowl with him - and endorsed Obama instead, former Clinton adviser James Carville called him a "Judas."


Laura Bush vetoes artist's Christmas tree ornament
WASHINGTON - 'Tis not the season to post calls for impeachment on the White House Christmas tree.

A spokeswoman for Laura Bush said yesterday that the White House tree will not include an ornament by a Seattle artist that supports President Bush's impeachment. Artist Deborah Lawrence said she wanted to salute Democratic Representative Jim McDermott of Seattle, a longtime Bush foe who backs impeachment.

The 9-inch ball Lawrence created is covered with swirly red and white stripes and features a picture of McDermott. Tiny glued-on text hails the impeachment resolution. Laura Bush had asked members of Congress to pick artists to decorate ornaments for the White House tree to showcase all 435 congressional districts.

Sally McDonough, a spokeswoman for Laura Bush, called the ornament inappropriate. "I think it really is a shame and, quite frankly, not very much in the holiday spirit," she said.


Other candidates used campaign clothing money
WASHINGTON - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin apparently wasn't the only candidate with donor-financed duds.

A watchdog group says in a complaint filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission that at least five campaigns bought clothing.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics says the campaigns of Democratic Representatives Loretta Sanchez of California and Rob Andrews of New Jersey, Republican candidates Bill Dew of Utah and William Breazeale of North Carolina, and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr each spent hundreds of dollars on clothing.

The group says that violates a ban on personal use of campaign money. It filed a complaint against the Republican National Committee earlier for buying tens of thousands of dollars worth of clothing for Palin, the party's vice presidential nominee. The RNC and Palin have said they did nothing wrong. And the McCain-Palin campaign has said some of the clothing was returned to stores soon after its purchase. The RNC has received and inventoried remaining items and they "will be appropriately dispersed to various charities," spokesman Alex Conant said yesterday.

Barr's campaign manager said he did nothing wrong. "It was an appropriate expense associated with the campaign," said Russ Verney.


Senator Martinez will not seek a 2d term in Florida
ORLANDO, Fla. - US Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, who has struggled to boost his approval ratings because of close ties to President Bush, announced yesterday that he will not seek a second term in 2010.

His seat was widely seen as vulnerable in two years, but Martinez, a Republican, rejected suggestions he faced difficult reelection prospects in a state won last month by Democrat Barack Obama.

"I've faced much tougher obstacles in my life," Martinez said. "My decision is not based on reelection prospects, but on what on what I want to do with the next eight years of my life."

Martinez, 62, was elected in 2004 after serving as the secretary for Housing and Urban Development during the Bush administration. He served as general chairman of the Republican National Committee for 10 months, resigning in October 2007.

Martinez, born in Cuba, fled at 15 to America as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan. ASSOCIATED PRESS

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