Joe Biden Defends His Cabinet Choices: 'This Is Not A Third Obama Term'

In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on Tuesday evening, President-elect Joe Biden addressed critiques that his administration is relying upon too many figures who previously served under former President Barack Obama. “This is not a third Obama term because we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” Biden said when Holt asked if his upcoming tenure as commander-in-chief would largely be an extension of the 44th president’s. “President Trump has changed the landscape. It’s become ‘America First’; it’s been ‘America Alone.’ We find ourselves in a position where our alliances are being frayed. … That’s why I’ve found people who joined the administration and keep points that represent the spectrum of the American people as well as the spectrum of the Democratic Party.” Biden’s incoming administration includes Obama-era politicians like former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Alejandro Mayorkas, who previously served as the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The president-elect has tapped the men for secretary of state and homeland security secretary, respectively. When Holt asked if he would consider nominating any Republicans who had previously supported Trump, Biden responded that he had no timeline on such an announcement, but would be open to it to help unite the country. “The purpose of our administration is once again uniting,” Biden said. “We can’t keep this virulent political dialogue going. It has to end.” Holt also asked Biden about potentially appointing former Democratic opponents like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Biden said nothing was off the table but that keeping progressive allies in the House and Senate was foremost in his mind. “I’ve talked to them,” Biden said. “As I’ve said, we already have significant representation among progressives in our administration, but there’s nothing really off the table. But one thing is really critical. Taking someone out of the Senate, taking someone out of the House, particularly a person of consequence, is a really difficult decision that would have to be made. I have a very ambitious, very progressive agenda, and it’s going to take really strong leaders in the House and Senate to get it done.” Biden added that he’d spoken with over 20 world leaders who were pleased that “America was going to reassert its role in the world and be a coalition-builder.” He championed his appointees’ experience as evidence that “America is back.” Nevertheless, the president-elect’s picks have gotten flak from Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who tweeted this week that the Biden’s Cabinet was filled with typical career politicians with Ivy League diplomas who would ultimately leave the U.S. reliant on foreign powers such as China. Watch Joe Biden’s remarks below.

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