December 17th, 2008
11:11 AM ET
9 years ago

Becerra says no to Obama

Becerra is staying in the Congress.

Becerra is staying in the Congress.

(CNN) - Rep. Xavier Becerra, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for U.S. trade representative, pulled himself out of the running Tuesday.

In a statement released by his office, the California Democrat said he's more interested in working alongside Obama from his seat in the Congress.

"I am grateful for that privilege and now see a rare opportunity to push across the goal line much of the unfinished business of America: investing in our infrastructure and our workers, universal healthcare, comprehensive immigration reform, and scrubbing a tax code that’s out of shape and behind the times," he said in the statement.

“Working for and with incoming President Barack Obama would be an opportunity of a lifetime. I will get to experience that thrill… by working by his side in the People’s House just down the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Democratic sources told CNN earlier this week that Obama had formally offered Becerra the position.

But Becerra told La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper, that he felt trade would not be a major focus in the Obama administration.

"I came to the conclusion that it would not be priority No. 1, and perhaps, not even priority No. 2 or 3," he told the paper Tuesday.

Becerra, whose district includes much of Los Angeles, is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He was also recently elected vice-chair of the House Democratic caucus.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. Noah

    I see the Obamaniacs are still using the old "change" theme even though Obama is clearly not about change. We can see that from the retreads he filled his cabinet with. That isn't to say they are not qualifed people; they certainly are. But he can no longer use change as his mantra.

    December 17, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Sig, Los Angeles CA

    It's a good thing... this dude is a crook.

    December 17, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. IndyVoter

    To Andy:

    "Someone said no to Obama! Don't you get to go to hell for denying the Messiah."

    No..... but you get your country bombed and decimated by shock and awe if you say "no" to Bush!

    No....but you get your name "outed" as a CIA agent if Cheney doesn't like you.

    No...but you do go to hell for lying: for like...hmmm, I don't know Troopergate, Wardrobegate, WMDs in Iraq, (insert lie told by the current Administration here) ...

    December 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. Doug from Allentown

    Independent In NY...

    You got it right. This guy probably has some skelletons in there.

    December 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. RiggsMD KC,Mo.

    Running from leadership responsibility or skeletons he doesn't want out. He knows the media will perform an autopsy on his life and career.

    December 17, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. gregg

    stop the hatred ,, obama is lord of us,, he makes our wishes come true,, he stops all ,, btw obots,, ask your god to give back the jobs in vegas and atlantic city,, oh , i just heard ,, on jan 22 2009 all jobs that were lost,, all homes that were in foreclousure will be reinstated,,, thank you god obama for making this world a better place,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,snicker lol

    December 17, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  7. jean2009

    Gee ... do we really know if he was asked? Wouldn't Arnold appoint his replacement? Begs the question ... would that appointment be a Latino or even a Democrat?

    December 17, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. gregg

    moderation,, sure ,call it censorship , cnn if its not all obama its nothing at all... and . no i very rarely watch cnn,,, but i love this alter to the god obama,, no wonder kenya had a national holiday... really america,,, a holiday for a potus,, whom is not yet

    December 17, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Ivan

    What's the fuss about? Is this just another attempt on the part of the new tabloid-style reporting CNN to somehow belittle Obama? Shame on you.

    December 17, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. Jackie in Dallas

    What is WITH you people? I voted for President Elect Obama, and have respected most of his choices for his staff and cabinet. The fact that ONE person he invited to take a place in his Cabinet said no is NOT a big deal. I respect the reasons that Becerra stated, and would hope that his integrity and desire to serve his constituency would be matched by the respect he would be accorded for following that desire. Certainly, his desire to put trade first resonates with his constituency, and is likely an important part of PE Obama's economic recovery. I think it is too narrow, myself, but after all PE Obama is not collecting a group of "yes-persons" and he could have added that note to the discussion. But wanting to fulfill the office to which he was elected is hardly a crime!

    December 17, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Pete

    Notice how no one has asked Obama about what he thinks about the shoe thrower throwing a shoe at Bush. They don't want him to have to make the hard choice between offending true blooded American's and muslim's overseas.

    December 17, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. Philly Fanatic

    I can't believe all dramatic reactions people are having towards this. He (Becerra) just thought he can be more helpful where he is now or maybe not the right person for the job (I think someone with a strong background in trade economics would be better). It's not like it's a slap in the face to Obama. You are allowed to decline.

    December 17, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Peter

    Andy – I think you have to deny him three times.

    December 17, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. Dean in Florida

    I feel sympathy for those who did extrordinary things and are truly deserving of being recognized as 'Person Of The Year".

    Note to Media: Stop bending over for Obama.

    December 17, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Mari


    With ...... 76% ...... of Americans APPROVING of how President-elect Obama is handling transition, his choices and the way he has inspired us during the BUSH DISASTER........ the far-right hate mongers can only ..... offend!

    Saying no, is just fine. People need to do what is best. Obviously Becerra has other plans.


    December 17, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Dave

    I'm trying to figure out what makes Obama arrogant? Nothing about him comes off as arrogant to me.

    I'm asking a question and not trying to be a jerk. I'd like an example of how he is being an arrogant guy.

    December 17, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Shawn

    Certainly don't want to hear Navarette crying and moaning anymore about no Latinos being selected by Obama...

    December 17, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. obama-mama

    Maybe he's just too lazy and know he will have to actually work.

    December 17, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Alexander Hamilton

    Trade would be a big deal ,but we really don't have anything to trade with. Pyramid schemes don't fall in that category

    December 17, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. gregg

    i am crying because someone said no..what will happen to the world,, all is out of balance now,,, the chi became chow,, the chow became

    December 17, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. STL-Veteran

    @ Andy

    I guess your not a Christian since we Christians do not hate we forgive. So your forgiven since you only have the intellect that God gave you we all understand where you are coming from.

    Peace and God's Blessings to you!

    December 17, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Sherri

    I admire Rep. Becerra. He will serve our country well in Congress and we need great folks in the House working hard for America.

    December 17, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. VAL

    I don't think this is that big of a deal, so what if he turned down a job offer he still has a very important job now that was given to him by his constituants, what would people be saying if every presidents job offers had to be accepted? It wouldn't be good I'll tell you that and that is what it is and offer so it CAN be turned down.

    As for the spew thats being thrown around about latinos being racists thats a load of crap! Sure there a few bad apples in every group of people but to say Latinos as a whole are racists is ridiculous! Thats the same bigotry that has gotten us into a mess. Obama is proof that that mine frame has now changed in people maybe you bigots should do the same!

    December 17, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. SS, Washington

    Washington State have many of qualifed people that could serve. Hopefully he will look at Rep. Smith or Gary Locke

    December 17, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Spider

    Man of Peace-

    Have to say, first off, that your post does not reflect your name.

    I am happy for you that you believe Obama is going to make this country a better place for all of us. Faith is a good thing. I, however, will reserve my opinion until such a time as I can, responsibly, have an opinion. Your, blindly, nodding your head at his every move is what has always scared the rest of us about you Obominations.

    The fact of the matter is that he has just as much chance of making the country a worse place for all of us. I will give the man the opportunity to prove his worth, beings as he has done nothing in his career, so far, to prove it. But, I will not stare at him, lovingly, and make excuses for him if his Presidential decisions turn sour. Can you say that Man of Peace?

    And, guess what? It wasn't my attitude that created the "dark side" of our history. It was the attitude of people that followed, comatose, those leaders who talked a good game and then lead us down the wrong path.

    December 17, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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