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Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony for Robert A. Mosbacher as Secretary of Commerce

February 03, 1989

The President. Thank you for that warm welcome. This is a very special occasion for me because, as most -- I'd say please be seated, but -- [laughter] -- I don't think that would go over too well back there. What a wonderful, wonderful turnout for our new Secretary. But this is a special occasion, Bob Mosbacher and I have been friends for a quarter of a century -- more. And I trust his advice; I respect what he's accomplished in business. And I know he will be a very valuable member of our economic team.

It's also an honor for me to participate in this swearing-in in a hall that's named after another dear friend of mine: Mac Baldrige. He was a tremendous Secretary of Commerce, and I know he would have been so pleased to see that this Department, which meant so much to him, will be in such capable hands.

When what was then called the Department of Commerce and Labor, established back in 1903 -- Congressman Charles Cochran described what he believed were the ideal qualifications for the Secretary. He said: "Above everything, he should be a man of affairs, acquainted with the vast subject with which he must deal, vigilant, enterprising, resourceful, and possessed of the sagacity which distinguishes the American man of business from all others."

Well, ladies and gentlemen, those of you who know anything about Bob Mosbacher know that he fits that description to a tee. And he's a savvy international businessman, an entrepreneur who built his own extraordinarily successful business and kept it on solid footing even during tough economic times. He also is known as a world-class sailor -- won international and national championships. And to use a sailing analogy, he will now take the helm at Commerce and help chart America's economic course into a new era of prosperity.

It's Bob's mission to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce of the United States, a mission that's easily stated, but not so easily executed. As Secretary, he will promote American exports aggressively, continue our support of R&D, research and development, operate an export control program balanced between safeguarding security and encouraging exports, responsibly manage our vast national fisheries resources, and play an important role in this administration's efforts to clean up the oceans and America's coastlines. I know that preserving and protecting the environment is a special concern of Secretary Mosbacher's. Bob will work with business to create innovative programs and achieve scientific breakthroughs in manufacturing, transportation, communications, and other areas to guarantee that the United States maintains its leadership role in the world marketplace.

Both Bob and I are committed to making America more competitive than ever before. Our businesses can compete with anyone, anywhere in the world, if we're given a fair chance. Our commitment to free and fair trade will enable us to ensure that our trading partners respect our right to compete in their marketplace, while they compete fairly in ours.

Bob has a big job ahead of him. But whether it's trade or tourism or NOAA or the Bureau of Standards, Minority Business Development, the Census -- any of the important areas of this Department -- I know that he has a great team behind him, willing to give 100 percent. And one of the reasons I wanted to come here to the Department is to express my confidence in those of you who have worked as careers for the Federal Government.

The growth of commerce, both nationally and internationally, is the key to guaranteeing that America's most productive and prosperous days are still ahead. As a fellow Texan said recently: "Bob Mosbacher is the right man to do the job that has to be done." So, I came over here to wish him well -- wish all of you well.

Mr. Secretary, congratulations, good luck, and God bless you!

And now Secretary [of State] Baker will do the honors.

[At this point, Secretary Mosbacher was sworn in.]

Secretary Mosbacher. Mr. President, Secretary Baker, if I may digress for a second: two wonderful, wonderful Americans who this country is so proud of and so lucky to have, friends of over 30 years. Thank you, sir -- and, of course, my family and, of course, all of us who are going to work together, fellow employees of the Department of Commerce. I look forward with great enthusiasm to addressing the challenges and opportunities the American people have in several vital, important walks of our national life.

Mr. President, on behalf of this Department of Commerce, we accept our mission. Of course, it's a mission -- and a major objective of ours at this Department is to promote our economic growth and competitiveness. We must ensure that trade is a two-way street for American business by expanding overseas markets for top U.S. goods and services while ensuring fair competition through effective enforcement of our trade laws.

Another vitally important mission is to improve the beauty and quality of our oceans, shorelines, and estuaries. Our fine people in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- NOAA, as it's known to all of you and now many of us -- are already working vigorously at cleaning up our oceans. But of course, even though they're working on this, more work can and must be done because we have been blessed with an abundance of beautiful natural resources, including our oceans, estuaries, our beaches, our shoreline; and we must do all in our power to preserve and protect these precious assets.

Third, as an old sailor, I know how vitally important it is to keep our weather forecasts accurate and our warnings early. You know, Mr. President, there are a lot of people in this country who view Willard Scott as our weatherman. [Laughter] But we in this Department know that NOAA is the bureau that serves as the provider of the meteorological data to the Nation's weathermen, and so, we are really your weathermen.

We must also enforce our national capability to develop the best in modern technology. We must pursue policies that will speed commercialization of technology. Our new technology administration will be in the forefront of this effort. Our colleagues in economic affairs must continue their diligent efforts to measure efficiently and accurately the successes and failings of our diverse economy. In the same vein, we must ensure an accurate and fair census in 1990.

A challenge? Sure, and a tough one. But to do anything less than to strive to succeed as never before would not be right.

Finally, let me say, Mr. President, you have given us -- and to me and to all of us here -- a special assignment that is near and dear to your heart. We know this. Specifically, we're going to strengthen the Minority Business Development Agency so that all Americans will have the fullest opportunity to participate and enjoy the great American dream. It's important, and it must happen.

I'm humbled by the challenges that lie before us and confident that together we will offer our hands to help achieve our President's goals. As Reverend Parker said: "If we work together, all is possible."

Again, my thanks to you, sir, to the family I love, and to all of you. Together we can do the job. God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. in the Malcolm Baldrige Great Hall at the Department of Commerce. Reverend Diana Parker delivered the invocation.

George Bush, Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony for Robert A. Mosbacher as Secretary of Commerce Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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