THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||June 18, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON NOMINATION OF AMBASSADOR BILL RICHARDSON
AS SECRETARY OF ENERGY,
AND RICHARD HOLBROOKE AS AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS
The Rose Garden
10:08 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Senator Bingaman and CongressmanBecerra, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all here today as Iannounce my intent to nominate Ambassador Bill Richardson to becomeour Secretary of Energy, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to assume theportfolio of America's Representative to the United Nations. I'mespecially pleased that their families could join me and the VicePresident, and as you can see, our entire national security team.
Over the last two years, Bill Richardson's experience,energy and tenacity have made a real difference in advancing ourinterest in the United Nations and around the world. With diplomaticskills honed in one of the most diverse congressional districts inour country, negotiating ability tested in some of the toughest hotspots on our planet, and a personal touch evidenced from his firstday on the job, Bill Richardson has brought creativity and drive toour leadership at the U.N.
He has served the Secretary of State and me by tacklingsome of the toughest negotiating challenges from the Congo to Zaireto Afghanistan. He helped to rally the international community tospeak and act as one in the crisis in Iraq. Today, the internationalinspectors are back on the job, working to end Iraq's nuclear,chemical, and biological weapons threat -- thanks in no small measureto his efforts. He has been a vigorous and articulate proponent ofour engagement around the world and the importance of leveraging thatengagement by living up to our United Nations obligations.
In short, if there's one word that comes to mind when Ithink of Bill Richardson, it really is energy. But that is hardlythe only reason I am appointing him to this job. (Laughter.) For 14years representing New Mexico, an energy-rich state that is home totwo of our national Department of Energy labs, and his long serviceas an active member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, hehas gotten extensive, firsthand experience in issues ranging fromderegulating the oil and gas industries, to promoting alternativesources of energy, to ensuring that energy development meets toughstandard of environmental safety. I thank him for his willingness toserve.
Let me also say that Secretary Pena has left a veryimpressive legacy upon which to build. I appreciate his five yearsof service to our nation as both Secretary of Transportation andSecretary of Energy, where he surprised, I might say, even hisgreatest admirers with the speed with which he mastered theincredible complex issues of the Department and the leadership hedemonstrated in supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, incoming out with an electricity deregulation plan that will safeconsumers $20 billion a year, in helping to open all kinds ofopportunities for energy conservation and a clean energy future forAmerica.
Let me also thank him as Secretary of Transportation forhis service there in advancing mass transit more than at any point inrecent history, and for opening up our air commerce with 40 othernations.
With Congress' support, Bill Richardson will do his partnow to secure our energy future, at a time when that is inextricablybound up with our obligation as Americans to do our part to deal withthe problem of climate change, and our obligations as Americans tobuild a secure future for our country that allows economic growth andprotection of the planet.
I believe that this challenge will require the greatestenergy from our labs, from our scientists and technology, from anEnergy Department that can work clearly with the private sector onwhat plainly will be one of America's most important priorities foryears and years to come.
Ambassador Holbrooke, my new United Nations designate,is already a familiar face all around the globe. His remarkablediplomacy in Bosnia helped to stop the bloodshed, and at the talks inDayton, the force of his determination was a key to securing peace,restoring hope, and saving lives. His ongoing service in the Balkanregion has helped to keep Bosnia's peace on track through somedifficult moments.
He has helped to advance our efforts to break thestalemate in Cyprus, and he's worked to diffuse the alarming tensionsand violence still brewing in Kosovo. His expertise rests on anoutstanding career of diplomatic service, from his early days as oneof the youngest ever Assistant Secretaries of State for Asia, an areawhere he has continued to be actively involved and which is veryimportant today. Then he worked as my Ambassador to Germany and asAssistant Secretary of State for Europe.
His long experience in the private sector has given hima keen eye for the bottom line, economically and politically. Hewill help us to shape a U.N. that is leaner, more efficient, betterequipped, that fulfills the best ideals of its founders and meets thechallenges of the 21st century.
Ambassador Holbrooke understands, as do all the membersof our national security team, the important role the United Nationscan play in supporting our goals around the world -- pursuing peaceand security, promoting human rights; fighting drugs and crime,helping people lift themselves from poverty to dignity andprosperity. Our nation will always be prepared to act alone ifnecessary, but joining our strength with our U.N. partners, wemaximize our reach and magnify our effectiveness while sharing costsand risks.
In a world where developments beyond our borders havedramatic implications within them, from rogue states seeking nuclearweapons and chemical and biological weapons to pollution corrodingthe atmosphere, international cooperation is clearly more importantthan ever. I urge Congress to send my legislation, therefore,without unrelated issues to live up to our legacy of leadership, andpay our debt to the United Nations.
In closing, let me say that the Vice President and Ifeel very fortunate every day to have such a strong national securityteam -- men and women of vision, of judgment, of commitment. We haveworked closely together to make sure that our nation remains theworld's leading force for peace and freedom, for prosperity andsecurity.
The line-up I announce today maintains that exceptionalstandard. I thank all of them for their willingness to serve. Iespecially thank Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Richardson fortheir willingness to take on these important new tasks.
And now, I'd like to turn the floor over to them.
AMBASSADOR RICHARDSON: Mr. President, Mr. VicePresident, members of the national security team, Senators Bingaman,Congressman Becerra, friends and family. Mr. President, thank youfor honoring me by nominating me to a second Cabinet position, thefirst in the foreign policy area as your U.N. Ambassador, and now asyour Secretary of Energy in the domestic arena.
Mr. President, as an Hispanic American, I thank you foryour commitment for being the most prolific appointer of Latinos ofany President. Your leadership in this area is unquestioned.
In the foreign policy arena, one often talks aboutstrategic partners. I want to thank my most important strategicpartner, Barbara Richardson, for her assistance. (Applause.)
Mr. President, let me also say that I've enjoyed theenormous support of the Vice President, whose friendship, commitmentand support has always been there. And I thank him.
During my tenure as U.N. Ambassador, Mr. President, Ihave seen your leadership produce breakthroughs on NATO enlargement,Northern Ireland, China, and a host of other instances where yourpersonal intervention made a difference. On Iraq, I saw your policyof diplomacy backed by force make a difference with Secretary GeneralAnnan in easing the tensions there. Today, Mr. President, America isthe foremost player on international economic issues because of yourdomestic leadership on the economy in creating one of the mostsuccessful peacetime economies in history.
Mr. President, I, too, leave the best job in government-- U.N. Ambassador -- to assume a challenging post at Energy. Let mejust briefly say something about the United Nations. I am convincedthe United Nations is good for America, and good for the world. Ithas advanced America's interests in Iraq, in Kosovo, on thesubcontinent, on refugees, on human rights, on creating democracies.Under Secretary General Kofi Annan's leadership, the U.N. isreforming itself and responding to many challenges. As the Presidentand Secretary of State have often said, we must pay our dues at theU.N.
To my 184 Ambassador colleagues at the U.N., and thethousands of U.N. staff members, you have my unqualified support andadmiration.
I very much look forward to leading the Department ofEnergy as it carries out its important and diverse missions. TheDepartment must continue its leadership on energy issues because ahealthy energy sector is a critical element of a vibrant and growingU.S. economy. The Department's ability to maintain a safe andreliable nuclear stockpile will support your efforts, Mr. President,to security a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a treaty made all thatmore important by recent events.
Finally, the Department's Cold War legacy ofenvironmental cleanup must proceed successfully in many communitiesaround the country. The national labs play a critical role in thiseffort. The Department of Energy's many talented and dedicatedscientists will support these efforts, especially in the area oftechnological advancement so important to the nation's success in the21st century.
I'm excited about this challenge. I look forward toworking within the administration on a host, a variety of theseissues.
I want to thank also a great national security team --Secretary Albright, Secretary Cohen, Sandy Berger, George Tennant,Joe Ralston, Leon Fuerth -- they're terrific. It's a great,cohesive, important team.
And speaking of energy, Dick Holbrooke will be a greatU.N. Ambassador -- a great negotiator, a great strategist, and agreat human being.
Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
MR. HOLBROOKE: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President,Secretary Albright, Secretary Cohen, Sandy Berger, AmbassadorRichardson, Erskine Bowles, General Ralston, many friends and family,thank you.
When I was about 8 years old, my parents took me to astriking new complex that had recently been built on the East Riverin New York. These buildings, my father said, would become the mostimportant in the world; they would prevent future wars.
My father did not live to see how his dream for the U.N.dissolved in the face of the harsh realities of the Cold War and theinadequacies of the U.N. system itself. But I never forgot theinitial visit and my father's noble, if overly idealistic, dream.Despite its many problems and failures, I still believe in theimportance and even necessity of the United Nations.
It is, therefore, Mr. President, with the greatesthumility and pride that I accept your invitation, the Senate willing,to rejoin the administration as your Ambassador to the UnitedNations. Mr. President, you, the Vice President, Secretary Albright,Sandy Berger, Leon Fuerth, Strobe Talbott, and the rest of yourmagnificent national security team are committed to improving theUnited Nations, to making it more responsive to the demands of thepost-Cold War world and to working closely with Congress to solvingthe extremely important problem of the arrears.
I am proud to follow in the footsteps of my friends,Madeleine Albright, Bill Richardson, Tom Pickering -- each of whomset such a high standard of excellence in this post. I'm especiallypleased that I will be working for and with Secretary Albright andSandy Berger again; and for the first time in the Executive Branchwith Secretary Cohen, who I've had the privilege of knowing as afriend since he entered the Congress in the 1970s.
I am deeply honored to be part of Madeleine's team atthe State Department, which she leads with such distinction. I'mequally pleased to rejoin my dear friend of over 20 years, SandyBerger, who's been so masterful in guiding the national securitysystem, the National Security Council, through a period of greatchallenge. And what an enormous honor it is to be serving again inthe administration with Vice President Gore, a friend for so manyyears, whose support has meant so much to me and my family.
I also want to thank my colleagues at Credit SuisseFirst Boston for supporting me and putting up with the fact that fromtime to time -- perhaps more than they wished -- I was absent from myduty to them as I took on special missions for Secretary Albright inthe last two years.
It will not be easy for my wife, Kati, and me to followBill and Barbara Richardson, who have left such a vivid mark on theUnited Nations and New York. The energy and intelligence with whichthey carried out their tasks will long be remembered. And Kati and Iwill remember their friendship to us.
We are especially fortunate -- and I particularly --that we now have a Secretary General of the United Nations, KofiAnnan, a remarkable, international civil servant. He and I and ourwives have been friends for many years, and I look forward especiallyto especially to working closely with him.
My friends have always meant a lot to me, and I owe manypeople a great deal. It's not possible to thank them all thismorning, but I do thank those of you who came down from New York tojoin us. I hope Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, you'll permit meto introduce those of my family who are here -- and most of them are:My mother, Trudi Kearl, who, like my father, came to this country inthe late 1930s from a Europe on the verge of war. My parents-in-law,Andre and Ilona Marton -- Andre is here, Ilona is not -- who, as theonly journalists who with access to the outside world in October of1956, sent the last unforgettable reports from Budapest as the Soviettanks cracked down on the freedom fighters on the streets ofBudapest, and then were smuggled out of Hungary with their two youngdaughters by the American Embassy. My wonderful step-daughter,Elizabeth Marton Jennings and her uncle Andrew; and my own sons, thepride of my life, David Holbrooke and Anthony Holbrooke -- both nowtelevision producers -- for all of you I will say, great televisionproducers, in New York. (Laughter.)
Two people could not be here today, my step-sonChristopher and my wife, Kati, who were unable to get back in timefrom Colorado. Everyone who knows me knows that I would not be heretoday or gotten through Dayton without the support and love of Kati.I simply cannot adequately express what I owe to her or what shemeans to me.
In closing, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, I amhumbled and moved by the opportunity to serve again, as part of ateam and an administration that is writing a magnificent record ofAmerican leadership and dealing with the challenging new agenda inthe post-Cold War world, and redefining America's role in the worldalong the lines of the items that the President mentioned a momentago. With the consent of the Senate, I look forward to working withyou again, although I sometimes feel that I never entirely left.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, are you softening your policy towardIran? Are you softening your policy toward Iran? Did you find a newrapprochement?
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with the remarks made yesterdayby Secretary Albright. We talked about them extensively before shemade her speech. What we want is a genuine reconciliation with Iranbased on mutuality and reciprocity, and a sense that the Iranians areprepared to move away from support of terrorism and distribution ofdangerous weapons, opposition to the peace process.
We appreciate the comments that were made by thePresident several months ago, and we are exploring what the futuremight hold. We have not changed our principles, our ideas, or ourobjectives. We believe Iran is changing in a positive way and wewant to support that.
Q Are you contemplating a gesture, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I think Secretary Albright's wordsshould stand for themselves right now. I thought it was a finespeech and an important one.
Q Mr. President, do you have any plans to resurrecttobacco, perhaps in the House? And how?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, yesterday many of the Republicanssenators who I called -- and I talked to 10 of them yesterday -- saidthat they had been approached by Senator Lott about the prospect ofputting some sort of special group together of four Republicans andfour Democrats and maybe having them try just in a matter of a fewdays to come up with a bill they thought would actually not only passthe Senate, but could be written into law. And if that's agood-faith effort they're willing to make, that's certainly oneoption that I would consider.
But I don't intend to continue -- to stop fighting forthis. I think it's obvious to everybody in the world what happened.This bill was voted out of the committee 19 to 1. Some of the peoplewho voted for it in the Republican Caucus then did not vote for it onthe floor, even though every major amendment which was adopted to thebill was sponsored by a Republican senator. And I think it's prettyclear what happened.
They may believe that the $40 million in advertising bythe tobacco companies changed public opinion irrevocably andpermanently, and, therefore, it's safe to walk away from the biggestpublic health obligation that this country has today. I don'tbelieve that.
But even if the politics have changed, the meritshaven't. One more day will pass today when 3,000 more children willstart to smoke even though it's illegal to sell them cigarettes, and1,000 of them will have their lives shortened because of it. And forus to sit here and do nothing in the face of evidence which has beenmounting during this debate -- the Minnesota case, during thisdebate, gave the freshest and in some cases the most vividdocumentary evidence of all from the tobacco companies themselvesthat they've known about the addictive qualities of nicotine foryears, and that they have deliberately marketed cigarettes tochildren for years, even though they knew it was against the law todo it, because they needed what they call "replacement smokers."
Now, the bill is simple in its outline and clear in itsobjectives. And in terms of the complications of it, many of thosewere added by the people who now are criticizing it.
So, on balance, I think the case is still sooverwhelming that we ought to keep working on it, and I'm prepared --you know, I've been working on this for years. When we started, mostpeople didn't think we'd get as far as we have, and I don't thinkthat we intend to stop until we prevail. And sooner or later wewill, because it's the right thing to do.
Q Sir, how will you finance this child careinitiative and other things that were contained in that bill withoutruining the budget?
THE PRESIDENT: We can only finance -- we can financethat part of it which is within our own budget, and that part of itwhich was dedicated to -- which would had to have been financed bythe states and which was within a menu of things that we supportedthat the states could spend it on won't be financed unless the statesget the money some other way. And I think that's unfortunate,because I think that would be a good expenditure of some of themoney.
Keep in mind, most of the federal money was designed tobe spent on -- directly on health care --on medical research, onsmoking cessation programs, on programs designed to deal with theconsequences of the health problems that are directly related tosmoking in this country. And that was, of course, a part of theSenate's decision in killing it.
I think it's important to point out also that there were-- that this bill is temporarily dead because of the unusual rule ofthe Senate that requires 60 percent, not 51 percent, of the Senate topass on any bill other than the budget if somebody objects to it. Sofor all the $40 million in spending -- and as reported in the papertoday, all the commitment to run the same ads all over again inNovember to protect the Republican members who voted with them --they still could only muster 43 votes. And two of those votes werepeople who wanted a better provision for the tobacco farmers andessentially supported the bill.
So, essentially, what you've got is 41 people denyingthe American people and denying the huge majority of the UnitedStates Senate, including a number of Republicans, the right to pass atobacco bill, and ask the House to do the same to protect ourchildren. That's not a long way from success. And that means thateach and every one of the members of the Republican Caucus who votedfor that was in a way personally responsible for the death of thebill.
It's not all -- it's dead today. It may not be deadtomorrow. And it's not dead over the long run because the publichealth need is great. I've never quit on anything this important inmy life, and I don't intend to stop now. There are too many futuresriding on it, and I think in the end we will prevail.