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Obama Says Ray Kelly 'Well-Qualified' For Homeland Security Post

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- President Barack Obama says New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be "well-qualified'' to run the Department of Homeland Security.

"I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is, so he's been an outstanding leader in New York," Obama said in an interview Tuesday with with New York's Univision affiliate.

Kelly has been floated as a possible replacement for outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who is leaving to take over the University of California's 10-campus system.

Obama didn't confirm whether he is actively considering nominating Kelly, saying the commissioner "might be very happy where he is.'' But Obama said if Kelly isn't, he'd want to know about it because Kelly would be well-qualified for the Homeland Security post.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has said he wants Obama to nominate Kelly.

"Ray Kelly is the man for the job – New York's loss would be [the] nation's gain," said Schumer in a statement.

"There is no doubt Ray Kelly would be a great DHS Secretary, and I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy.  While it would be New York's loss, Commissioner Kelly's appointment as the head of DHS would be a great boon for the entire country.  Janet Napolitano has done an outstanding job, and if I had to give her a grade on her tenure, it would be 'A+'.  We need someone just as good who can fill her shoes,"  Schumer added.

Long Island Congressman Peter King echoed those sentiments.

"The NYPD has more than 50,000 officers and civilians, he has the largest counter terrorism force in the country, he previously worked in Washington as the head of customs which is an integral part of Homeland Security," King said.

Kelly is not the first NYPD commissioner to be considered for Homeland Security secretary.

In 2004, former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik was nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Tom Ridge – the first Homeland Security secretary. But Kerik was forced to withdraw his name amid allegations including conspiracy and fraudcharges that landed him a prison sentence.

Michael Chertoff ended up getting the job, and he was followed by Napolitano.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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