U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden smiles during a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 12, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of six former secretaries of Commerce has endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president, in a new letter provided exclusively to CNBC.
The group includes Carlos Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush; Penny Pritzker and Gary Locke, who served under President Barack Obama; and Bill Daley, Norm Mineta and Mickey Kantor, all of whom served under President Bill Clinton.
The former secretaries write that their decision to endorse the former vice president stems from a shared sense of alarm over the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We believe that a Biden presidency will mark the return to the certainty and security that our economy needs to thrive,” they write.
“The world around us will remain chaotic, but we will once again restore stability at home to show entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, and workers that the steady hand of U.S. leadership is once again at the helm,” the letter says.
The letter doesn’t mention President Donald Trump, but the implicit criticism is clear: Trump’s leadership during the pandemic and the recession, they’re saying, has not been steady enough.
The letter is noteworthy because the job of Commerce secretary is typically one of the least politicized posts in the presidential Cabinet.
For example, one of the Democratic signatories of the Biden letter, Bill Daley, appeared on CNBC in late 2016 to praise Trump’s decision to name investor Wilbur Ross to be the next secretary of Commerce.
“I think it’s a really good choice,” Daley said at the time.
The nonpartisan tradition at the Commerce Department is also hinted at in the Biden letter.
Biden, “will work with people of all political stripes to better manage this horrific pandemic and help bridge the deep divisions that are tearing our nation apart,” the former officials write.
The letter comes nearly four years after Trump made international trade a centerpiece of his domestic and foreign policy agendas.
As president, Trump has abandoned principles that have guided U.S. trade policy for decades in favor of his more nationalist, “America First” approach.
Biden has pledged that if he is elected, he will fundamentally shift U.S. trade policy back toward a more multilateral, cooperative framework.
Read the entire endorsement letter, below.