Hispanic Caucus Lobbies for Perez to Replace Holder; Pick Coming 'Shortly After the Election'
Earnest continued, saying, "The door does continue to be open to the possibility that this individual could be nominated shortly after the election and that we would seek the Senate to -- or we would call on the Senate to act quickly to consider that nominee promptly."
"And we will do so knowing that we believe firmly that individual is worthy of the kind of bipartisan support that's necessary to confirm an attorney nominee."
The press secretary then pointed out a lame-duck nomination "strategy that was pursued by the previous administration," namely the nomination of Robert Gates to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of Defense in 2006.
Perez was asked at the National Press Club on Oct. 20 if he would continue Holder's promise to not jail journalists for protecting their sources -- such as federal prosecutors' demands that New York Times reporter James Risen reveal information beyond what he wrote in his book State of War, which describes CIA mishandling of Iran's nuclear drive.
"My singular focus is on the job of being at the Department of Labor," Perez replied.
"And I know the attorney general very much values the role of the press as the fourth branch of government," he continued. "Remember, he served as the deputy attorney general under Janet Reno and often participated with her in her weekly conferences, whether it was -- there was good news, bad news, or indifferent, she was out there and he was often there with her in those press briefings because he understands the critical importance of the press in so many aspects of our life."
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the Hispanic Caucus, said today that Perez is "the perfect candidate."
"In recent years, he has been instrumental in the president’s efforts to protect Americans’ civil and voting rights and help working families as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and as secretary of Labor. In these two positions, he has clearly demonstrated the that he is capable of leading the Department of Justice," Serrano argued.
“I have no doubt Tom Perez would be an excellent attorney general, who would work tirelessly for fairness and justice for all Americans."
Obama addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala at the beginning of this month, where he vowed to "act to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own."
"This is not a question of if, but when. Because the moment I act -- and it will be taking place between the November elections and the end of the year -- opponents of reform will roll out the same old scare tactics. They’ll use whatever excuse they have to try to block any attempt at immigration reform at all," Obama said. "And we have to be realistic: For any action to last, for it to be effective and extend beyond my administration -- because I'm only here two more years -- we're going to have to build more support of the American people so that it is sustainable and lasting."