|John McHugh could be a smart pick for the new president.|
Republican chosen as Army secretary
WASHINGTON - President Obama yesterday picked a Republican congressman known for his even temperament, willingness to work with Democrats, and steadfast support for the troops to become the top civilian leader of the Army.
Representative John McHugh, who grew up in a middle-class family in his district of Watertown, N.Y., could be a smart pick for the new president.
It makes good on Obama's promise to reach across the aisle and minimizes, if not eliminates, congressional opposition. At the same time, taking McHugh out of the House gives Democrats a better chance at grabbing his seat in the next election.
Obama said McHugh is "committed to keeping America's Army the best-trained, the best-equipped, the best land force the world has ever seen."
It is the second time Obama has chosen a Republican for a high-ranking position at the Pentagon, itself a conservative institution. If confirmed, McHugh will join Defense Secretary Robert Gates, chosen by Obama to hold over from George W. Bush's Republican administration.
McHugh has represented upstate New York in Congress since 1993, and is the top Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee.
"The Army's always had a special place in my heart," said McHugh, who has also served as cochairman of the House of Representatives Army Caucus and member of the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point.