September 7th, 2007
03:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton cabinet member backs Obama

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Clinton cabinet member Federico Peña announced Friday he will endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid and serve as his National Campaign Co-Chair.

Despite working in the Clinton administration, Peña decided to back Obama over his former boss’ wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“I have spent years working with presidential administrations and world leaders, and what I see in Barack Obama is the kind of judgment this country needs to usher in a new era of global leadership," Peña said in a statement. "The challenges we are facing in Colorado, in the Hispanic community and across the country are formidable and it is time for bold and thoughtful leadership in the White House.”

Peña was the mayor of Denver before President Clinton tapped him to be his Secretary of Transportation, and later, his Secretary of Energy. He was Denver's first Hispanic Mayor.

“I look forward to working with Federico to bring about the transformation this country desperately needs," Obama said in a statement. "His vision for change as mayor of Denver and his strong record on energy and transportation issues brings invaluable experience to our team."

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. anna, Appleton, WI

    I honestly don't care who backs who. Really, I have better things to do and more important things to pay attention to. People are entitled to vote for whomever they wish and dislike whomever they wish. It's great to be an American!!!

    September 7, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. spinstopper

    Hey wait a minute... Wasn't this the guy that was head of the energy department while China was stealing our secrets?

    Is that the kind of experience Obama is looking to working with??

    September 7, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Juan Gomez, New York City, NY

    Obama should distance himself from Pena. Federico Pena was Secretary of Transportation and was responsible for value jet, and airport security falling apart. 911 was made possible by Pena's lack of concern for airport security. Federico Pena, also has been accused of awarding State and federal contracts to companies in which he had a financial interest.

    September 7, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. walters,A

    He is correct to back a candidate because of his ideas and convictions and not just the simple fact of working for the husband, this nations deserve better.
    Obama 2008.

    September 7, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. DowninDenver

    Peña took over a city wracked by recession, promising that "Denver is poised for greatness." Under him, Denver launched one mega-project after another. It hosted a Grand Prix, built a new convention center, and authorized the building of a new baseball stadium and airport. In each case, the pattern was the same. The city government broke its promises, and taxpayers ended up footing the bill.

    The Grand Prix tied downtown traffic in knots for two years then left, with Denver taxpayers holding a $2.5 million bill. The convention center saw a drop in bookings over the predecessor, and the baseball stadium promised at $140 million is coming in at $215 million.

    And then there was the DIA. Practically everything Peña ever said about the need for the airport and its cost was a fabrication.

    Congradulations Obama..

    September 7, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Jonathan, Cambridge, MA

    Why isn't this headline on the front page, seeing as how it's, you know, actual news? Michelle saying Obama is "stinky" and "snore-y" in the morning gets billing over this? Really, CNN? Might want to pull your pants up a little, your bias is showing.

    September 7, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Johnny Chicago

    Quit crying, that airport is beautiful, not to mention the city of Denver, not to mention Denver is a totally liberal city that cares about the environment. Villify someone else. God, its like you are mad at progression. You know how much typical baseball stadiums go for? How bout airports? If you want to expand, progress, money is to be spent, especially when the country puts a boob like Bush in office for 8 years. you want to talk about wasted spending of taxpayers money, start there, not in denver, where the guy obviously distinguished himself enough to be part of the cabinet, even if it was bush's cabinet.

    September 7, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. kathe oakland california

    Well, Obama, you must want the spanish vote bad to get Pena but hey this is America and that is what America is all about each of us having a right to choose.

    But CNN now this was news – why didn't you run this before the snore/stink Obama???????
    I bet ya Hillary could say some strong stuff about B I L L but she is no fool, she knows she better keep smilin,and hugin B I L L

    September 7, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. lionel, ottawa

    it s ridiculous how people are talking about obama or who have endorses him. If he was white i ll hear a big round of applause. Please sit down and relax cause he s heading to the office. Hate it or love it

    September 7, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. Wendy

    One can see Obama's lack of experience:

    1. Hired policy advisor who worked for one of the worsest presidents in history (Jimmy Carter);

    2. Hired someone from Denver who does not have a good record and his boss wife would not hire him because of that. Now he works for her rival to get even.

    Obama gets desperate even his wife feels he is stinky.

    September 7, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  11. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    Substance Breeds Hope

    September 7, 2007 – 12:00am
    By Michael Mouton

    In his article Wednesday, cleverly titled "Rock the Barack," Mark Coombs '08 argued that the message of "Hope," which has been one of the central themes of Obama's campaign, although inspiring, lends little substance to the candidate's credentials. I would have to agree; the day that a nation votes for a president simply because that individual promises to spend eight years inspiring the populous will be the day that "informed democracy" is dragged out to the parking lot and summarily executed (figuratively speaking). Coombs, however, has befuddled his causalities.

    Imagine yourself a 40-something constitutional law professor at U. Chicago and state senator of Illinois. You decide you're going to run for senator and then president. You have an epiphany: you'll center your campaigns around a message of "Hope." You'll even write a book with the word "Hope" on the cover to drive home the point. Better start appointing your cabinet, because that should do the trick, right? Actually, chances are you'd tank. If every "skinny kid with a funny name" could pull off two radically successful campaigns with nothing more than a catchy stump speech, the presidential field would be swelling with anyone who cared to have a go at what Coombs refers to as the "Top Job."

    Obama has not managed to raise more money this soon in the primary than any other presidential primary campaign in the history of the American political system simply because he promises "Hope."

    Rather, the substance of his political record and his ideas inspire hope in Americans, who then support his candidacy. Obama, for instance, delivered a speech just before the commencement of the Iraq war outlining all the reasons that things would go terribly wrong, more or less to the T (YouTube "Barack Obama on Iraq"). He was able to do this because he is a scholar of International Relations, has spent a large portion of his childhood abroad and probably has a better understanding of how global politics function than any of the other candidates. Compare Obama's "preemptive" critique of Iraq to Dick Cheney's stance on the situation, and draw your own conclusions about the extent to which experience working for previous presidential administrations translates into foreign policy that's good for the country.

    One of the ideas that Obama often includes in his message of hope is how Washington is in urgent need of profound ethics reform. The reason he's able to substantively argue this point is that he is currently running the only presidential campaign that refuses to take money from lobbyists.

    Also on this note, when a state senator in Illinois, Obama was able to push through the most comprehensive ethics reform bill in 25 years. He has since accomplished a similar feat in the U.S. Senate with the Coburn-Obama Transparency Bill.

    In truth, Obama did not somehow single-handedly manage to paint himself as a symbol of hope and inspiration on a national level. It wasn't until after he was asked (out of the blue) to speak at the 2004 DNC, and the Democratic base started labeling him as presidential material, that Obama could have even imagined a national campaign.

    His rise to "rock star-dom" did not come because he married the right person or started calculating his presidential campaign 25 years ago in his undergraduate dorm room; it came because he knows what he's talking about when it comes to politics, he knows how to bring diverse political actors to the table to pass bi-partisan legislation, and people recognize that.

    And if the Democratic Party is still afraid of a little charisma, we definitely didn't learn anything from 2000 or 2004.

    September 7, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  12. Darrius, AR

    I can see Hillary Clinton's unelectability.

    1. Half the people in the country hate her.

    2. More than half of the people in Colorado have an unfavorable view of her.

    3. The most un-Republican-like Republican (Gulliani) is leading in the polls simply because people think he can defeat her.

    4. More than half of the people in Colorado have a favorable view of Obama.

    September 7, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  13. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Obama couldn't get real smart and brilliant guys, because people of high principles are working for Hillary Clinton, so he only can get a turncoat or backsliders. (check Obama's staffs)Wendy, you are right, Obama gets desperate, he knew it.

    September 7, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. Adam, Plano, TX

    One can see Obama's lack of experience:

    1. Hired policy advisor who worked for one of the worsest presidents in history (Jimmy Carter);

    2. Hired someone from Denver who does not have a good record and his boss wife would not hire him because of that. Now he works for her rival to get even.

    Obama gets desperate even his wife feels he is stinky.
    Posted By Wendy : September 7, 2007 6:26 pm

    ignorance is bliss eh wendy?

    September 7, 2007 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  15. Michael

    "Wasn't this the guy that was head of the energy department while China was stealing our secrets?"

    Actually, that would be Bill Richardson...

    Agree with previous poster, though. Denver is gorgeous, the airport is one of the best now, the new stadium was a boon for LODO, etc. Get real if that's the best criticism you can come up with (and, he was "responsible for ValueJet???" Get real...).

    I also just love reading the grammar/spelling of some of these Republican critics (congradulations? worsest president?), makes you think.

    September 8, 2007 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  16. Dan, TX

    Of course he is getting endorsements. That doesn't mean everyone endorsing him is going to have a position in the government. Obama will have the best brains in the country advising him, not any person who happens to think he has the best judgment of all the candidates.

    Obama will be a great president.

    September 8, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. sonya, atlanta, ga

    at least his wife shares a bed with him and knows what he smells like. We can't say the same for Hillary and Bill.

    September 8, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Kinf

    There's a reason you're sueosppd to be at least 18 to vote. The hope is well, MY hope is, that by the time you've reached that age, you're able to understand longer, more complex, nuanced sentences. Does it not BOTHER you that Republicans have won the last couple of elections by speaking down to people and appealing to their basest instincts?

    April 27, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |