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Obama To Nominate McHugh For Senior Army Post

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET: President Obama announced that Republican congressman John McHugh of New York will be his nominee for Secretary of the Army on Tuesday.

In a midday announcement, the president admitted that he has no greater responsibility than keeping Americans safe and his appointment of the nine-term lawmaker is a step to fulfilling that oath.

"It is his service over the past sixteen years in Congress, as a champion of our men and women in uniform, that uniquely qualifies him to help lead America's army," President Obama said.

The president detailed his years of service in various committees, subcommittees and caucuses focused on the interest of the U.S. troops.

Noting the importance of a "bipartisan consensus," the commander-in-chief said McHugh, "hasn't agreed with every decision my administration has made, but he brings patriotism and a pragmatism that has won him respect on both sides of the aisle."

McHugh thanked Mr. Obama for the opportunity and said, "if confirmed by the Senate I will do everything I possibly can to work in concert with the army leadership to provide you and Secretary Gates the broadest base, the most accurate, most informative information."

He praised members of the House Armed Services committee for "put[ting] aside those [partisan] differences and worked for the most important common good."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, will have a fellow Republican at the senior levels of the Pentagon if McHugh is confirmed.Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET: President Obama announced that Republican congressman John McHugh of New York will be his nominee for Secretary of the Army on Tuesday.

In a midday announcement, the president admitted that he has no greater responsibility than keeping Americans safe and his appointment of the nine-term lawmaker is a step to fulfilling that oath.

"It is his service over the past sixteen years in Congress, as a champion of our men and women in uniform, that uniquely qualifies him to help lead America's army," President Obama said.

The president detailed his years of service in various committees, subcommittees and caucuses focused on the interest of the U.S. troops.

Noting the importance of a "bipartisan consensus," the commander-in-chief said McHugh, "hasn't agreed with every decision my administration has made, but he brings patriotism and a pragmatism that has won him respect on both sides of the aisle."

McHugh thanked Mr. Obama for the opportunity and said, "if confirmed by the Senate I will do everything I possibly can to work in concert with the army leadership to provide you and Secretary Gates the broadest base, the most accurate, most informative information."

He praised members of the House Armed Services committee for "put[ting] aside those [partisan] differences and worked for the most important common good."

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, will have a fellow Republican at the senior levels of the Pentagon if McHugh is confirmed.

The congressman is the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and his congressional district includes Fort Drum army base. His resignation from the House will cause a second NY special election this year; the first, for the seat vacated by Senator Kirsten Gillbrand, remains in flux.

A Democratic official tells CBS News' Political Director Steve Chaggaris, that in a possible NY-23 special election, "it's possible" for Democrats to pick up McHugh's seat but it will be "tough."

"The good news. Obama won by 52.6 percent. The district is trending Democratic," the official said.

The democrat added that "[Gov. David] Paterson can take as long as he wants to issue an election proclamation. Once he does, the election has to take place 30-40 days from the proclamation."

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