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Chris Cox to John McCain: I'm not quite ready to go

September 18, 2008 |  2:12 pm

Chris Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission targeted today for a pink slip by fellow Republican John McCain, plans to hang onto his job -- at least for a few more months, thank you.

Cox, whose public profile got raised exponentially when McCain called him out, issued a lengthy statement that said, in part:

"History will judge the quality of our response to this economic crisis, but now is not the time for those of us in the trenches to be distracted by the ebb and flow of the current election campaign.

"And it is precisely the wrong moment for a change in leadership that inevitably would disrupt the work of the SEC at just the wrong time. I have long made clear my intention to leave the SEC after the end of this administration. The next president will have an opportunity to look at the major structural questions so important to the regulation and oversight of our financial markets.

The McCain quote that grabbed attention -- "If I was president today, I would fire him" -- technically was a rhetorical flourish. Although named to his post by President Bush in 2005, once Cox was confirmed by the Senate he became his own boss on the independent agency. Realistically, however, a clamor by the nation's chief executive that he step aside would be hard to ignore.

In his statement, Cox said (using the accepted parlance of Washington) that, "While I have great respect for Senator McCain, we have sometimes disagreed, and this is one such occasion."

He continued:

"There is much more work to be done, and the current crisis is presenting new challenges on an hourly basis. What America and the world needs now is steadiness and reduction of uncertainty. ... I very much appreciate the strong and immediate support of the president.

"As someone who has been in public life for over 20 years, I know as well as anyone that occasionally this sort of thing can come with the territory. The best response to political jabs like this is simply to put your head down and not lose a step doing the best job you can possibly do on behalf of those you serve. For my part, I plan to do just that. I leave the political campaigns to pursue their own course."

-- Don Frederick

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