WASHINGTON — Under fire for nominating a series of white men to top posts in recent days, President Obama vowed Monday that his second-term administration would be diverse and urged critics not to ‘‘rush to judgment.’’
Obama noted that women were among his top advisers in his first term, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of state; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services; Nancy-Ann DeParle, White House deputy chief of staff; and Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security.
His two Supreme Court appointees were Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
“I’m very proud that in the first four years we had as diverse, if not more diverse, a White House and a Cabinet than any in history,’’ he said. ‘‘And I intend to continue that.’’
Administration officials are poring through lists of candidates to make sure Obama has an array of prospects for senior jobs.
Among those getting attention is Lael Brainard, undersecretary of the Treasury, who could be promoted to deputy secretary under Jacob S. Lew, the president’s choice to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Her name has also come up in discussions as a possible replacement for Ron Kirk, who has said he plans to step down as the US trade representative.
Obama is said to be considering two men to replace Lew as chief of staff. But he has other possible spots for women or minorities, including the Office of Management and Budget.
Several other posts to be filled are being vacated by women, including Hilda Solis, the secretary of labor, and Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator. The post of commerce secretary has been vacant for months, but the acting secretary is a woman.
Bloomberg News reported Monday that Obama was considering two women for top positions.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a former deputy OMB director and deputy chief of staff to Bill Clinton, was said to be a candidate for OMB director. Ruth Porat, chief financial officer at Morgan Stanley, was said to be a candidate for deputy Treasury secretary.
Napolitano has made clear her interest in succeeding Attorney General Eric Holder, but he has decided to stay for now. Obama aides suggest that Susan E. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, could become national security adviser. But Thomas E. Donilon, who has that job, has told the president he plans to stay. — NEW YORK TIMES
President Obama jokingly lamented Monday that he is ‘‘getting kind of lonely in this big house.’’ He said he might invite some Republican lawmakers over to the White House to play cards.
Obama was responding at a news conference to familiar criticism that he is too isolated and does not socialize enough. The president says people close to him know he’s a friendly guy who likes a good party. But he said it hurts some lawmakers if they are seen as ‘‘too cooperative or too chummy’’ with the president.
Even when he invites lawmakers to a congressional picnic, Obama said, ‘‘It doesn’t prevent them from going onto the floor of the House and blasting me for being a big-spending socialist.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS
RICHMOND, Va. — White House gate crasher Tareq Salahi, who has been running for governor of Virginia as a Republican, says he will instead launch an independent bid for the office.
The state’s Republicans will choose their gubernatorial nominee at a closed convention this spring. State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is seen as the favorite.
Salahi said Monday he will compile the 10,000 petition signatures needed to appear on the November ballot as an independent.
Salahi and his then-wife, Michaele, gained fame in 2009 when they attended a White House state dinner uninvited. — ASSOCIATED PRESS