President Bush said in a statement read by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, ”Tom Kean is a leader respected for integrity, fairness and good judgment.”
Kean, currently the president of Drew University in Madison, N.J., takes the place of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who resigned Friday after he learned that the position would required him to disclose the clients of his consulting firm. The man appointed to serve as his vice chairman, former Sen. George Mitchell, also stepped down last week.
Kean, 67, is a moderate Republican who was elected governor in 1981 when he defeated Democrat James J. Florio. He was re-elected in 1985.
While Kissinger has received criticism for his role in the Vietnam war and the Nixon administration, Kean has a less contentious background, according to analysts. His book outlining his value-infused approach to public life, The Politics of Inclusion, was published in 1988.
A popular figure in New Jersey politics — Kean’s father was a congressman — Kean was mentioned by Republican strategists as a possible candidate to run against incumbent Democrat Sen. Robert Torricelli in 2002, who was plagued by accusations of ethical lapses. Kean decided not to run.
Kean’s vice chairman will be former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, the choice of congressional Democrats. The commission will have 10 members; five appointed by Democrats and five by Republicans. Commission appointees do not need to be confirmed by the Congress.