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CNN Today

Bush Nominates Norm Mineta for Secretary of Transportation

Aired January 2, 2001 - 4:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Onto Mr. Bush now: Mr. Bush completed work on setting up his Cabinet today. He rounded out his Cabinet selections by announcing his picks to head the departments of Labor, Energy and Transportation.

Briefly, the choices are Spencer Abraham, the former Michigan senator. Abraham is the nominee for energy secretary. To head the Department of Labor, Republican commentator Linda Chavez. Chavez served in the Reagan administration. And perhaps the biggest news, California's Norm Mineta to head the Department of Transportation. Mineta fulfills Mr. Bush's objective of having at least one Democrat in his administration.

Having Mineta could help Mr. Bush in other ways as well. CNN's Major Garrett now looks at a longtime Washington veteran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Secretary...

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not only did the president-elect find a Democrat: He found one Al Gore would have kept in his Cabinet. Norman Mineta will move from Commerce to Transportation, from expanding U.S. business to spending billions each year for roads and airports, railways and waterways.

It's a topic Mineta knows well. He's a former chairman of the House Public Works Committee, which monitored the Transportation Department's work.

Mineta lost his chairmanship after the Republicans won control in 1995. He later resigned from the House, returning to California as a transportation lobbyist for Lockheed Martin.

Mineta was the first Asian-American to become a Cabinet secretary, a promotion that capped an amazing American journey. During World War II, Mineta's family was shipped to an internment camp: 40 years later, Mineta led the charge in Congress for the issuance of a formal U.S. apology and $20,000 each in compensation to internment victims.

(on camera): The Senate swiftly confirmed Mineta the first time around, and that's sure to happen again. But more importantly, the Bush team has finally added a leading Democrat to its Cabinet, one with vast transportation experience. Mineta's strong ties to the Asian-American community and California could prove to be big political assets for Bush, as well.

Major Garrett, CNN, Austin, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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