Obama: New York's police chief 'well-qualified' to lead Homeland Security

WASHINGTON Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:01pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a light reference to old movie special effects while speaking about award recipient George Lucas who created ''Star Wars'' during the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony at the White House in Washington July 10, 2013 file photo.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a light reference to old movie special effects while speaking about award recipient George Lucas who created ''Star Wars'' during the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony at the White House in Washington July 10, 2013 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be "very well-qualified" to lead the Department of Homeland Security, but added that there would be numerous strong candidates for the job.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced she is stepping down to lead the University of California.

"Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he's not, I'd want to know about it," the president said in an interview with Univision's New York affiliate. "Because, you know, obviously he'd be very well-qualified for the job."

Napolitano has been an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, a legislative priority in Obama's second term. Despite early momentum, the legislation appears stalled in the House of Representatives and the president said on Tuesday he does not expect Congress to finish work on it before its August recess.

Kelly's name has surfaced as a possible replacement for Napolitano in part because his strong law-and-order reputation could help neutralize criticism by conservatives who oppose immigration reform over border security concerns.

The department's broad mandate includes border security and disaster response. The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, praised for turning the agency around after a much-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is also considered a possible candidate.

"It's one of the toughest jobs in Washington," the president said. "But, you know, we're going to have a bunch of strong candidates."

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Comments (1)
Quizixal wrote:
Its too bad Obama isn’t “well qualified” to lead this country. He has done more harm to our rights as American citizens in 4 1/2 years than I care to think about. With every new national tragedy sensationalized by irresponsible reporting, Obama tries again and again to strip us of our constitutional rights in the name of “national security” Perhaps its time to impeach him and get someone who really does want to defend the constitution.

Jul 16, 2013 11:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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