from the White House
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND COMMERCE SECRETARY NOMINEE GARY LOCKE
February 25, 2009
11:08 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Last night, I
outlined my vision for our common future -- one in which we accept the
responsibility to act boldly and wisely to confront the extraordinary
challenges of our times, put people back to work doing the work America
needs done, and lay a new foundation for America's growth and
Today, I'm pleased to announce that I'm filling out my economic team
with a man who shares that vision, and who will play a key role in
carrying it out as my Secretary of Commerce: Governor Gary Locke.
Now, I'm sure it's not lost on anyone that we've tried this a couple of
times, but I'm a big believer in keeping at something until you get it
right. And Gary is the right man for this job.
Sometimes the American story can be told in the span of a single
mile. More than 100 years ago, Gary's grandfather left China on a
steamship bound for America. He had no family here. He
spoke no English. He found work as a servant, and purpose in a
dream. He raised a son -- Gary's father -- who would go on to
fight in World War II, return home and open a grocery store, and later
raise a family of his own.
Gary didn't learn English until he was five, but he earned the rank of
Eagle Scout, worked his way through Yale University with the help of
scholarships and student loans, and got a law degree. He returned
to Washington state and served as a prosecutor, a state representative,
chief executive of one of the most populous counties in the United
States, and finally as governor -- in the State Capitol building not
one mile from the home where his grandfather worked as a servant all
those years ago.
So Gary knows the American Dream. He's lived it. And that's
why he shares my commitment to do whatever it takes to keep it alive in
Because somewhere in America, another small business owner is hard at
work on the next big idea and dreaming big dreams for his
grandchild. A scientist is on the cusp of the next breakthrough
discovery. An entrepreneur is sketching designs for the startup
that will revolutionize an industry. Our economic crisis has put
these plans at risk, but it has not dimmed the dreams that inspired
That's why we've put a recovery plan into action that will save or
create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. That's why the
vast majority of these jobs -- 90 percent -- will be created in the
private sector, because we know that business, not government, is the
engine of growth in this country.
It is entrepreneurship and industry that are the wellsprings of an
economy that has been the greatest force of progress and prosperity in
human history. It is America's workers and businesses that employ
them that will determine our economic destiny. It is the task of
the Department of Commerce to help create conditions in which our
workers can prosper, our businesses can thrive, and our economy can
That's what Gary did in Washington state, convincing businesses to set
up shop and create the jobs of the 21st century -- jobs in science and
technology; agriculture and energy -- jobs that pay well and can't be
shipped overseas. That's what he did by establishing favorable
markets abroad where Washington state's businesses could sell their
products. That's what he did by unleashing powerful partnerships
between state and local governments, between labor and business -- all
with an eye toward prosperity and progress for all those in his state
who had dreams of their own.
So Gary will be a trusted voice in my Cabinet, a tireless advocate for
our economic competitiveness, and an influential ambassador for
American industry who will help us do everything we can -- especially
now -- to promote our industry around the world. I'm grateful
he's agreed to leave one Washington for another. I'm looking
forward to having him on my team as we continue the work of turning our
economy around and bringing about a stronger, more prosperous future
for all Americans.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce to you an outstanding public
servant, somebody I'm certain will be a great Secretary of Commerce,
Gary Locke. (Applause.)
GOVERNOR LOCKE: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm
truly humbled and honored to be asked to join your economic team and to
serve as Secretary of Commerce.
As I flew across the country yesterday from Seattle, I saw the cities
and farmlands of America below me. And I thought of all those
businesses, small and large, that are struggling -- struggling to meet
payroll; struggling to provide benefits to their employees; wondering
about their future and viability as companies. Most of all, I
thought about all those families in those communities who are hurting
and worried about their future.
Mr. President, I know you hear their concerns. The American
people and I fully support you and have confidence in your bold
strategies to turn our economy around, to rejuvenate the health of
American businesses, to preserve and create good family wage jobs, to
restore our country to an era of lasting prosperity.
You eloquently outlined your strategies last night on how America will
rebuild, recover and emerge stronger than ever before. Working
with the professionals at the Department of Commerce, I'm committed to
making the Department an active and integral partner in advancing your
economic policies and restoring the American Dream to all Americans.
Our nation's economic success is tied directly to America continuing to
lead in technology and innovation, and in exporting those products,
services and ideas to nations around the globe. The Department of
Commerce plays a critical role in nurturing innovation, expanding
global markets, protecting and managing our ocean fisheries, and
fostering economic growth. The Department of Commerce can and
will help create the jobs and the economic vitality our nation needs.
When I was first sworn in as governor of the great state of Washington,
I told the story of how a hundred years ago, my grandfather came from
China as a teenager and worked for a family as a houseboy in exchange
for English lessons -- just one mile from the Governor's Mansion.
It took our family 100 years to move that one mile, a journey possible
only in America.
And during World War II, my father served in the United States Army as
a staff sergeant and landed on the shores of Normandy. As a kid I
lived in public housing, and my mom and dad worked very hard in the
neighborhood grocery store that they owned.
We grew up on the values of get a good education, work hard, and take
care of each other. It was a struggle, but thanks to their
sacrifices, I received the best education America offered. And
here I am today, proud to have the opportunity to serve all the people
of our great nation.
My family's story is America's story. Our story is just one of
hundreds of millions since the birth of our nation, of people coming
from every part of the world in pursuit of the American Dream of
freedom, hope and opportunity. In hard times, Americans have
rallied together, sacrificed and even given their lives for our
country, because they believe in the essential goodness and promise of
Americans are prepared to do the same today. They believe in your
leadership, Mr. President, and want you to succeed because they want
America to succeed. They want a better future for themselves and
We will harness the resources and the talent of the Department of
Commerce to help you fulfill your commitment to the American people to
build a stronger and more prosperous nation. I embrace this
opportunity to serve you and the American people.
And finally I want to thank my family -- my parents and brother and
sisters and the extended Locke clan, but especially my beautiful and
truly gifted and loving wife, Mona, and the joys of our lives, Emily,
Dylan and Madeline. Today would not have been possible without
their love, support and sacrifices. And thank you, Mr. President,
for this opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: Congratulations. You'll be great.
GOVERNOR LOCKE: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: All right, thank you everybody.
11:17 A.M. EST