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Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Barbara H. Franklin as Secretary of Commerce

March 23, 1992

May I thank Ambassador Schnabel for presiding here, but much more important, for the job he has done in an interim period. It's not easy. And he's done an outstanding job. And this gives me an opportunity also to thank those who work for this wonderful Department, the Department of Commerce. We're grateful to each and every one of you. Justice O'Connor and Senator Danforth, thank you for your participation in this ceremony. I thought Eli, Eli Barnes, the guy that gave the Pledge of Allegiance, did a first-class job, too. And Master Gunnery Sergeant Ryan, an old friend, thank you for leading us in the anthem. My respects to the marines here.

Then to our various Cabinet members with us today, it's most appropriate that you join your fellow Cabinet member at this special occasion. May I salute the former Secretary of Commerce Elliot Richardson. I know Pete Peterson was to be here, but I don't think he was able to make it. But Secretary Richardson is with us. And then we have other Cabinet secretaries, Bill Brock and Frank Carlucci and Jim Lynn and Margaret Heckler, all with us today. Members of Congress too numerous to acknowledge, but all vitally interested in Barbara's success as Secretary of Commerce.

And of course, a special salute to the one we honor today, Barbara Franklin, who is about to become the current Secretary of one of our Government's great Agencies.

For me, today is sentimental. I remember a couple of months ago I was telling an aide that I had decided to nominate Barbara to this difficult post. And he replied, "Don't you think she's got enough to do already?", referring to Barbara Bush. [Laughter] But that brings me to the one, the Barbara that we are here to celebrate and to honor, the newest member of my Cabinet, a woman who claims a long and distinguished career in both public and private service.

Barbara's been a member of the Product Safety Commission, a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy Negotiations, president and CEO of her own consulting firm, and also director of seven of America's most successful largest corporations. And always she's been a woman of courage, integrity, vision, and found plenty of time for service to her country.

And let it never be said that someone from Yale doesn't recognize talent from Harvard when he sees it. Hard to do. But her talent was spotted a lot earlier than that. Here's what her high school yearbook in Lancaster -- this may prove embarrassing to her, but here's what her high school yearbook in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said: "Versatile Barb is seen in all departments of Hempfield High School." But then it goes on: "A-student, honor society member, tennis team captain, high school cheerleader, student council president." And now, today, she is leading for a growing and prosperous American economy.

And may I salute her husband, Wally Barnes, who has been an outstanding success in business. When she needs consultation about free enterprise, she doesn't have far to go.

And let me repeat what she said in January upon accepting the Commerce post. She remarked that she would be "very proud to be an advocate for American business and jobs, manufacturing, service, every kind of business in this country. American business is the envy of the world."

Well, now that I have the benefit of her considerable talents, I am the envy of her former colleagues in American business. And I say that because she is energetic and experienced, extremely smart. And she can help us compete in the new world economy and create a new American century.

She knows how we must write new pages in the story of business and jobs, the story of American excellence. And I speak of the Pittsburgh mechanic, the Seattle computer specialist, the Des Moines mother who also holds down a job. And their tale is as old as the cotton gin and as young as magnetic tape. Work is noble in itself. No one has a right to look down at any American.

And Barbara Franklin of course, likes to lift things up. And some of you may know that in addition to her other talent she's an accomplished weight lifter. Arnold Schwarzenegger, eat your heart out. [Laughter] Now it's her time to lift people: people whose jobs and income depend on commerce and trade. And she won't help them through protectionism and isolationism either. Instead, she will be an evangelist for a strong economy, driven by competition, fueled by growth. And she will help protect jobs against those who would cost jobs by curtailing trade, by curbing trade.

I've known Barbara now for two decades, dating back to the early seventies. And at that time, she was at the White House in the early seventies, I was up at the United Nations. And we agree the way to create jobs is not to build a wall around America but to persuade other nations to tear their walls down. And I want a world of open markets, open competition, open hearts, open minds. And so does Barbara Franklin. And her record of dedication and integrity has transformed my admiration into confidence and my friendship into trust.

And at a time when competition in a global economy is changing the way we live, my friend takes her post to help change the way we lead. I know she will be able to count on a very able team of Commerce officials. She has big shoes to fill, coming in to take over from Secretary Robert Mosbacher, but she can do the job.

And to each and every one of you, again, who serve with her and who have helped her from the very first day she came over here in transition and now as Secretary, my profound thanks to you, not just for that but for the way you take the message of American business across this country and around the world.

In that spirit, it is with great pleasure that I turn the proceedings over to Justice O'Connor for the swearing-in of a woman who will help our economy thrive, our new Secretary of Commerce, Barbara Hackman Franklin. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:36 a.m. at the Department of Commerce. In his remarks, he referred to Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rockwell A. Schnabel and former Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor administered the oath of office.

George Bush, Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Barbara H. Franklin as Secretary of Commerce Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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