LaHood open to second term at DOT

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood publicly opened the door to serving in President Obama's second term Thursday.

Speaking with reporters after testifying at a House Transportation Committee meeting, LaHood said he has talked with Obama about staying at the helm of the Department of Transportation (DOT), although he said no decisions have been made yet.

"I've had one meeting with the president and he's a little bit busy now, but we'll get back together sometime early next year and we'll continue our discussion," LaHood said, referencing Obama's deficit negotiations with Congress.

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"You know what the president's busy doing right now ... trying to save the country," LaHood said when pressed for more information.

The remarks were a reversal from October 2011, when LaHood said that he was retiring at the end of Obama's first term.

"I’m not running for public office anymore,” he told the Chicago Tribune then.

LaHood has since softened his stance. He told reporters in September that he would sit down with Obama, as he now acknowledges doing.

"As somebody who's been in public service 35 years, I don't know if I've ever had a better job," LaHood said in September 2012. "This is a great job. I'll always be grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity, and I owe to him to sit down and talk after the election and see where it takes us."

LaHood's standing has created some uncertainty in the transportation industry as officials ponder both his future and who might replace him if he decides to leave the administration. Candidates such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) have been rumored as potential replacements for LaHood, although the president has not commented publicly about his second-term plans for the top transportation post.

LaHood was a Republican Illinois congressman for 14 years before he was appointed by Obama in 2009.