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Inside Politics

Rumsfeld to remain in Cabinet

Kerik tapped for Homeland Security; Thompson leaving HHS


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Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to remain at his Cabinet post for Bush's second term.
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Kerik will likely replace Ridge.

Ridge's resignation announcement.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- At the urging of President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to remain in his Cabinet post, a senior administration official said Friday.

The official said the president asked Rumsfeld, 72, to stay during a weekly meeting on Monday because the nation is at war and he is the best person for the job.

Rumsfeld has said he wants to finish his reforms at the Pentagon and continue overseeing the Iraq war and that country's hoped-for transformation.

Earlier in the day, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned, becoming the eighth member of Bush's 15-member Cabinet to step down since Bush won re-election. (Full story)

Friday morning, Bush nominated Bernard Kerik to lead the Department of Homeland Security, his latest move to restock his Cabinet for the second term.

Bush called the former New York City police commissioner a "dedicated, innovative reformer who insists on getting results."

He cited Kerik's work in New York where Bush said Kerik "had great success in reducing crime in New York City."

Kerik, 49, also led the New York City Police Department through the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath.

"His broad practical hands-on experience makes Bernie superbly qualified to lead the Department of Homeland Security," Bush said. (Profile)

"I am deeply humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve you and this great country," Kerik said in accepting the nomination. "Should I receive the consent of the Senate, I will devote every power I possess toward fulfilling the vital mission you have set before me and the Department of Homeland Security."

An administration official said New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani made personal pitches to the White House at least twice on Kerik's behalf.

A senior administration official described Kerik as a "proven crisis manager" with "credibility and firsthand understanding of the war on terror."

"The country is well aware of his courageous service in responding to the World Trade Center attack, his efforts to coordinate rescue and recovery work at Ground Zero," the senior administration official said.

Kerik would succeed Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, 59, who announced his resignation Tuesday. (Full story)

New York's two senators, both Democrats, expressed support for Kerik.

"If ever a state deserves to have a citizen appointed to [head the Department of] Homeland Security, it is New York," said Sen. Charles Schumer.

"Bernard Kerik knows firsthand the challenges and needs of New York and other high-threat areas," Sen. Hillary Clinton said in a statement. "As a member of the president's Cabinet, he can make that case every single day."

New York officials have long complained that they receive an inadequate share of federal Homeland Security money, given the fact that the nation's largest city faces a heightened threat from terrorists.

Other resignations

Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, have also announced they're leaving.

And this week, John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced he will leave his post in January after less than seven months on the job. (Full story)

So far, Bush has tapped five replacements. He nominated White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to succeed Ashcroft, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to take over at the State Department, domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings to replace Paige and Carlos Gutierrez to be the next commerce secretary.

On Thursday, Bush nominated Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns to be the new secretary of agriculture. (Full story)

All of the Cabinet nominees must be confirmed by the Senate.

CNN's Elaine Quijano and Jeanne Meserve contributed to this report.


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