Calling him possibly the best transportation secretary in history, President Obama bid goodbye to Ray LaHood on Monday and nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to take his place.
Foxx, a Democrat, replaces a Republican in the White House, but in his brief speech in the East Room of the White House he made an appeal for bipartisanship. "We must work together to enhance this nation's infrastructure," he said.
Obama also used the announcement to press for infrastructure spending, saying that putting Americans to work repairing the nation's roads and bridges was one of the best ways to boost the economy.
LaHood, a former congressman from Illinois who has held his post since Obama first took office, called his job the best he's ever had and the president one of the best bosses. He named new mileage standards, the campaign against distracted driving, and the launch of high-speed rail as accomplishments that will be part of Obama's legacy.
Obama did not want LaHood to step down, and he even tried to convince the secretary's wife to urge him to stay. ("Kathy and I have been married 46 years, and she wins out on this one," LaHood said Monday.)
But on Monday the president pronounced himself "absolutely confident" that Foxx will "do an outstanding job," calling him "one of the most effective mayors that Charlotte has ever seen."
The president also revealed two fortuitous coincidences: that Foxx's grandmother worked at the White House in the Truman Administration, and that Tuesday is the Charlotte mayor's birthday. LaHood's grandmother was there herself to watch the announcement from her wheelchair.