By Justin Sink - 07/16/13 10:06 PM EDT
President Obama said Tuesday that he'd "want to know" if New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly was interested in a job as Homeland Security Secretary.
"Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he's not, I'd want to know about it because obviously, he'd be very well-qualified for the job," Obama said in an interview with Univision's New York City affiliate.
"Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York, and the federal government partners a lot with New York," Obama said.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last Friday that he had called White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to recommend Kelly for the post after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced she would step down later this week to lead the University of California system.
“The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government," Schumer said in a statement. "Its leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three."
The New York lawmaker also touted Kelly's experience as the commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service from 1998 to 2001, arguing it could soothe Republican concerns about the next White House nominee's record on border issues.
A Schumer aide told the New York Daily News that McDonough was noncommittal during the call.
Obama went on to say that the White House would "have a bunch of strong candidates" to choose from and noted that DHS secretary was "one of the toughest jobs in Washington."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week it was "far too premature … to speculate about successors."
"The president will be very deliberate in examining his options," Carney said.
Were Obama to nominate Kelly, it would immediately invoke comparisons to President George W. Bush's selection of former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik to lead the department in 2004. Kerik was forced to withdraw his nomination after admitting to having employed an illegal immigrant as nanny.