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President Names Veterans Secretary, Completes Cabinet Reshuffle

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao have all agreed to remain in their jobs. It was already stated that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would stay on.

During a ceremony in the Roosevelt room, the president called Nicholson, who is currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, a “patriot” and a man of “deep conviction who has answered his country’s call many times.”

The former lawyer and real estate businessman grew up poor in rural Iowa. He joined the military to get an education and went on to fight in Vietnam.

“When I think of growing up dirt poor in a tenant house without plumbing and sometimes without food, I marvel at America, that the boy from Struble, Iowa, may serve in the president’s Cabinet. How could this be?” Nicholson said. “For me, it is because of the opportunities my country gave me as a cadet at West Point and as a soldier. These experiences have defined my life.”

He received the Horatio Alger Award in 2000, honoring his climb from humble beginnings to a position of success and two years later, Pope John Paul II named him a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Pius IX, the highest papal award given to a layman who is not a head of state.

The president has yet to nominate replacements for the secretaries of Energy and Health and Human Services.

The announcement that the rest of the Cabinet would stay came a day after White House officials ended the rampant speculation that Treasury Secretary John Snow would retire, making room for a restructuring of the president’s economic team.

News organizations reported Republicans close to the White House had talked about his impending departure and said administration officials were interviewing possible successors.

But at the White House, McClellan said the media reports were wrong.

“The president is pleased Secretary Snow agreed to continue to serve,” the spokesman said.

“He’s done a great job and has been a valuable member of the economic team, and we have a lot of important work to continue to build upon the steps we’ve already taken to get the economy growing stronger and creating jobs,” said McClellan. “He’s been an integral part of those efforts.”

President Bush is scheduled to hold a two-day economic summit next week, and according to one senior administration official quoted in The New York Times, “this was no time to send a signal of uncertainty.”

Snow made no comment Wednesday, but his spokesman, Robert Nichols, said, “The secretary is honored to serve the president and help implement his economic agenda.”

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