News / USA

Picking the Next US Secretary of State

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)
x
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will step down from her job as President Barack Obama prepares for his second term.

Secretary Clinton announced her decision earlier this year, telling State Department employees that she needs a break.

"I will certainly stay on until the president nominates someone and that transition can occur, but I think after 20 years of being on the high-wire of American politics and all of the challenges that come with that, it would be probably a good idea to just find out how tired I am," said Clinton.

Since the president's re-election, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says that is still the plan.

"You’ve heard her say many times that she intends to see through a transition of a successor and then she will go back to private life and enjoy some rest and think and write and all those things," said Nuland.

So who will President Obama choose to replace her?

U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)
x
U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)
U.S. Senator John Kerry (file photo)
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is a leading contender.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he is active in U.S. policy abroad, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As a former presidential candidate, he has some of the celebrity that Clinton uses to advance U.S. goals.

He is the man who President Obama chose to help practice debating Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and the Obama campaign used Kerry in an anti-Romney video.

"Romney just says things that are not true or irresponsible and is willing, for politically expedient reasons, to put at risk our foreign policy," said Kerry.

Kerry's obstacle may be his Senate seat. Any president who chooses any senator for a Cabinet post considers whether the ruling party can keep that seat in the legislature. Especially in a chamber with such a small majority as the current Senate.

Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown lost a tightly-contested race for re-election this week. That close-fought campaign puts Brown atop candidates to win the commonwealth's other Senate seat if Kerry leaves for the State Department.

Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)
x
Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)
Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. (Aug 2012 photo)
​U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is another leading contender to replace Clinton.

Much of the diplomacy in New York mirrors what is happening on the world stage, so being U.N. ambassador is good training for secretary of state. Madeleine Albright made the move.

But nominating Rice may raise criticism from Senate Republicans over the Obama administration's handling of the September terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

There is no evidence linking Rice to any of the decisions about security in Benghazi. But Rice was the face of the Obama administration on Sunday talk shows following the attack and she repeated the claim that the violence grew from demonstrations against an Internet video defaming Islam's Prophet Muhammad. That version of events has since been retracted.

"There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the terrorist attack by militants, and I think that might be the greatest liability," said Malou Innocent, a foreign policy analyst at Washington's Cato Institute. "But that said, she does remain a strong contender for the position and we will see sort of what might happen with her Senate confirmation."

U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)
x
U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)
U.S National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (file photo)
Another leading candidate to replace Clinton is Tom Donilon, the current U.S. National Security Advisor. It is a job at the center of the president's foreign-policy-making apparatus held by Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice before they were secretaries of state.

Donilon is a veteran of the Bill Clinton administration where he worked on NATO expansion and the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended fighting in the former Yugoslavia.

"He was deeply involved in President Obama's counter-terrorism policies," said CATO analyst Malou Innocent. "He also does have the president's ear in many respects. I think what he lacks, however, is the star power that Secretary Clinton had. He does not have the eminence internationally that someone like Clinton would have and something that you would expect in terms of relations with other nations."

There is no timetable for Secretary Clinton stepping down. But President Obama could nominate a replacement before the end of the year in hopes of having that person in place when he takes his second oath of office in January.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid