WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush yesterday chose Carlos Gutierrez, a native of Cuba who rose from truck driver to chief executive officer of Kellogg Co., to be secretary of Commerce.

If confirmed by the Senate, Gutierrez would succeed Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, a Texas confidant of Bush’s, who announced his resignation shortly after the Nov. 2 election. The president called the 51-year-old Gutierrez a “great American success story” and a visionary executive who understands the world of business from the “first rung on the ladder to the very top.”

“Carlos’s family came to America from Cuba when he was a boy,” Bush said in the Roosevelt Room. “He learned English from a bellhop in a Miami hotel and later became an American citizen. When his family eventually settled in Mexico City, Carlos took his first job for Kellogg as a truck driver, delivering Frosted Flakes to local stores.”

Gutierrez, who was joined by his wife, son and two daughters, is the first new member of Bush’s economic team for his second term. Bush’s chief economic adviser, Stephen Friedman, announced last week that he is leaving. Other changes are also anticipated, although Treasury Secretary John Snow would like to stay.

“The secretary views his service to the president as an honor and a privilege,” Rob Nichols, a Treasury Department spokesman, said of Snow. “Like all his Cabinet colleagues, he serves at the pleasure of the president.”

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, hailed the appointment.

“Gutierrez understands every level of manufacturing and he will use that knowledge to further strengthen the U.S. economy,” Engler said.

Looking ahead to his second term, Bush is already making changes to his current economics team. And, private economists say it is possible that could include a change at the Treasury post. In early February 2003, Snow, 65, a former chief at railroad giant CSX, replaced Paul O’Neill, who was fired by Bush as part of a shake-up of the president’s economic team.

 

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