December 17th, 2008
12:57 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama picks ex-Iowa governor, Colorado senator for Cabinet

Barack Obama has picked Tom Vilsack, left, and Ken Salazar for Cabinet posts.

Barack Obama has picked Tom Vilsack, left, and Ken Salazar for Cabinet posts.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday announced former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as his choice for agriculture secretary and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar as his choice for secretary of the interior.

"Together they will serve as guardians of the American landscape on which the health of our economy and the well-being of our families so heavily depend," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago.

Vilsack was a high-profile supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton during the presidential primaries after he briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination.

Vilsack has championed the development of ethanol, an alternative energy, in Iowa - something that coincides with Obama's vision for an energy-independent future, and something he can promote from the Department of Agriculture.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. BS not Maverick


    December 17, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. Genome

    Great picture! And what's up with the hat?

    December 17, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. deb in Colo

    Yeah, KEN SALAZAR!!!! Maybe his brother, John can take his Senate seat. Another family dynasty in the making.

    December 17, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Seth

    I'm glad that Obama is putting together a diverse team, wait, where are the Republicans he's supposed to embrace?

    December 17, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Matt

    I dunno...I think this choice was a little corny.

    ha...couldn't help it

    December 17, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. Iowan

    Vilsack was a horrible govenor, look at what a mess Iowa is in now with ethanol the worst new form of alternative energy...............just becuase he was governor of iowa, a huge agriculture state doesnt make him the most qualified person for the job

    December 17, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. MikeH

    Salazar sure looks like Phil Graham. Sorry Ken, but you gave me a start.

    December 17, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. Roger

    Well...I hope Barry is almost done paying these people back for all their support...because he is running out of jobs to give away.

    December 17, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. LIP

    Finally, a face without a goatee. I thought for a while that a goatee was a prerequisite, especially when Obama was so upset when whats his name Richardson shaved his goatee off.
    Only problem now is that all these guys are white. I'm white and would like to see a little diversity to better represent this country we live in.

    December 17, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. Iowa Mom

    I don't know Iowan, I think Iowa is in pretty good shape. What's wrong with ethanol? I use it in my car all the time.

    December 17, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Sri

    Great Going Mr Obama!
    Looks like he is hand picking the 2012 Presidential Contenders. He has Sen Biden, Sen Hillary, Sen Dashle, Gov Vilsak, Gov Richardson to name a few. No Sen Kerry ,Sen Edwards, No Ex VP Gore. Any chance of Sen McCain and Gov Palin too. That will be wonderful politics- Vanquish the Opponents by embracing them!!!!

    December 17, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. mark

    This is an interesting pick. There has been a lot of Democratic Senators who are jumping on the cabinet. IF things go bad for Obama the next two years for his administration, they will have all these replacement Democrats who were never elected by the people but appointed by Governors, then the Dems may lose the Senate. But that's if things go the way of the GOP. Politics can swing from the left to right back to the left in a short two year period.

    December 17, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Jeff W.

    God, whenever I see someone wearing a stupid cowboy hat I just immediately think that the person is an idiot. I would burst out laughing if someone came up to me wearing one of those things. Thank God I live in the Northeast where I never have to see these silly hats.

    December 17, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. mary dale

    Vilsack was a good governor for Iowa. He did the best he could with a Republican majority in the Iowa congress who only cared about tax cuts and defining marriage like most back woods Republicans. Thank goodness we are now a blue state again.

    December 17, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. Phil in KC

    As a former Iowan, I think Vilsack is a great choice for Agriculture. Who better than the former governor of an agricultural state in the heartland? I disagree with "Iowan". Even though I no longer live in Iowa, I still keep tabs on what's going on up there and I don't think Vilsack did a bad job. He's a bit of a centrist, but you kind of have to be in Iowa, to be elected to a statewide office. Perhaps "Iowan" is one of those right-wingers from the hinterland.

    December 17, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. Lyndon from CA

    So far Obama is rewarding most of those who threw their support behind his election. Vilsack supports corn ethanol and higher food prices that the use of corn for ethanol has wrought.

    December 17, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Aaron from the northeast

    in response to seth, he has picked gates to stay s sec. of defense and Gen. Jim Jones as a national security adviser. They are both republicans. in fact, jones even publically endorsed mccain. also, gates is the bush guy! he's keeping on a bush guy!!!

    by the way, I'm lovin salazar's hat. and i used to hink that anyone that would wear such a hat would be a republican.

    December 17, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Look back on the States Obama turned blue and we will still need them in 2012. This ain't pay back my friends, it's smart planning on Obama's part. MULTI-TASKING THE FUTURE.

    December 17, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Michael

    Why would the white house need him?? He didn't do much for IOWA, he should bale hay for awhile.

    December 17, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Texas Teacher

    I think he has embraced all the Republicans he needs to embrace... the Repubs have shown their true colors for the last 8 years!

    As well the southerners.... I will be surprised if he can even find some that have enough sence to be of any service to the People.

    Just saying.... 🙂

    December 17, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. ran

    I am one CO resident who will be glad to see Salazar leave the senate. He was more interested in how much pork he could bring back to CO, which for me makes him no better then Stevens of AK, then working to do what was best for the whole country. Also his votes showed he was not really interested in what the people of CO wanted just what he wanted to do like continue the warrantless wiretapping and continue funding the wars without time tables. He was a bad very bad senator. Good rid ens. Hopefully the Gov will replace him with a true Democrat and not some one who wants to be some kind of mediator like Salazar which cause the Republicans to fillibuster nearly everything the senate tried to do the last 2 yrs.

    December 17, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Once You Vote Black

    Ah Seth, look to the Sec of Def. for the GOP Hussain is embracing. I would like to see him fit Hagel in but at least he is placing different people in key post.

    December 17, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. Suzi

    I like that Salazar will be more proactive concerning public lands and resources. I'd like to see them stop giving resources on public lands to private companies for a pittance.

    I don't know much about these two or who would be better, but they have already been working to stop our dependence on foreign oil - something that is more important than ever now.

    These two fit in well with Obama's economic and energy plan. At least we're going in the right direction now.

    December 17, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Proud American in a Big Western City

    Ken Salazar always wears that hat (that's how I knew who he was in my pictures from the Obama rally). I think it looks good!

    What has greatly impressed me thus far about Obama's cabinet is that it has truly shaped up to look a lot like America: very highly qualified people of every race, creed, gender, ethnicity, geographic region, and political ideology. The only disappointment is that twit Rick Warren. I know Obama called The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson a couple of times during the campaign cycle for advice, why not tap him for the invocation?

    December 17, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  25. An Obama Supporter

    Gee Roger try to get the supporters correct...Vilsack was a solid Clinton supporter...makes me wonder the type of person who calls the president elect "Barry" you call presidents Ronnie, Billy, Georgie...What point are you trying to make exactly because it seems exremely childish?

    December 17, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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