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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid