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Entries in Secretary of State (11)

Tuesday
Jan292013

Sen. John Kerry Closer to Being Confirmed as Secretary of State

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry could be cleared to be Secretary of State by the end of Tuesday.

By a unanimous voice vote Tuesday morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Kerry used to head, approved his nomination to take over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's post.

The nomination will now move to the full Senate -- likely as early as Tuesday afternoon -- for final confirmation.

After the vote, Kerry made an appearance in the Foreign Relations Committee room to a round of applause.  The Democratic senator, clearly touched by the moment, hugged members of the committee and said, “I am honored beyond words and I mean that.  What a privilege.”

Kerry added that the “urgency of our efforts cannot be overstated,” and said he looks forward to working with the committee in his new role.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan242013

John Kerry Tears Up During His Confirmation Hearing

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- First there were near-tears, and then a protester had to be forced out, but Sen. John Kerry took it all in stride.

Kerry choked up at his secretary of state confirmation hearings Thursday morning when discussing his father’s history in the U.S. Foreign Service, and how he was “equally proud” of both that history and his own as part of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“If you confirm me, I would take office as secretary proud that the Senate is in my blood, but equally proud that so, too, is the Foreign Service,” the Massachusetts Democrat told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.

“My dad’s work under presidents, both Democratic and Republican, took me and my siblings around the world for a personal journey that brought home the sacrifices and commitment the men and women of the Foreign Service make every day on behalf of America.

“I wish everyone in the country could see and understand first-hand the devotion, loyalty and amazingly hard, often dangerous work that our diplomats on the front lines do.”

Republicans praised the Obama nominee Thursday,  with ranking member Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee telling Kerry that he’s “almost lived his entire life for this moment,” adding that he was “thrilled” Kerry was in such a position.

Kerry has served on the Foreign Relations Committee for 29 years, and would be the first committee member to ascend to secretary of state in more than 100 years.

At the end of his testimony, a woman wearing a pink ski hat began yelling about America’s role in the Middle East. “I’m tired of my friends in the Middle East dying,” she screamed while being forced out of the room by security.

Kerry, 69, was unfazed, recalling his own history of protesting against the Vietnam War when he first came to Washington. “I respect the woman who was voicing her concerns about the world,” he said, calling her outburst the right exclamation point to end his testimony and citing developments in the Middle East and Syria and how the world is watching.

“People measure what we do.”

He is expected to win the nomination and replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

John Kerry to Be Nominated to Succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will on Friday nominate Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state, likely succeeding Hillary Clinton, sources confirmed to ABC News.

Kerry, 69, the Massachusetts Democrat who was his party's nominee for president in 2004, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is unlikely to face fierce opposition from senators across the aisle.

Kerry's nomination is the only one expected from the White House Friday afternoon, although other cabinet members, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, are expected to leave the administration in the coming weeks.

An earlier possible State Department nominee, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration for the position when Republicans began to mobilize against her.  At issue was Rice's involvement in the Obama administration's response to the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Kerry's nomination will create an opening in the Senate. Sen. Scott Brown, the moderate Republican who lost his bid for re-election in November to consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, is expected to consider a run for Kerry's seat.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec162012

John Kerry to Be Nominated to Be Secretary of State, Sources Say

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sources tell ABC News that President Obama has decided that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. to be secretary of state.

For a variety of reasons, including the finalization of the process, other pending Cabinet decisions, and — more immediately — the national reaction to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the news will not be announced in the next few days.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is recovering from an illness and a concussion she suffered upon fainting because of that illness, is set to retire in the next few weeks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec132012

John Kerry Nomination Could Create Musical Chairs for Scott Brown in Senate

State Department photo(WASHINGTON) -- News that Amb. Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State may have brightened the days of both senators from Massachusetts.

Prior to Rice’s withdrawal, she was considered one of the top two contenders for the job -- the other is Sen. John Kerry, and with Rice out of the running, Kerry is “all but certain” to get the nomination, according to ABC’s Jake Tapper.  That means a vacant seat and a special election, which could benefit out-going Sen. Scott Brown, who lost his bid for reelection to Elizabeth Warren in November.

Brown is widely expected to seek out his old job and he would be viewed as a strong contender, particularly in a special election to fill Kerry’s vacancy. Republicans have a tendency to perform better in special elections, which draw many fewer voters.

But it would be at least six months -- assuming that Kerry is indeed nominated as Secretary of State and assuming that Brown wins a special election -- before he could re-join the Senate.

Massachusetts law dictates that a special election cannot take place sooner than 145 days from the time an out-going Congress member’s resignation is effective, meaning that at least 145 days must pass between the date that member actually leaves their job and the date that the special occurs. At this juncture in time, even if Kerry is nominated tomorrow and has an incredibly quick confirmation at the beginning of the next Congress, the earliest conceivable date to reach this mark is in June 2013.

The special cannot occur more than 160 days from the time that the resignation is effective.

Brown’s victory in a special election would not be a sure thing. Although he leaves office with high approval ratings -- exit polls from the 2012 election showed him with a favorability rating of 60 percent -- but Massachusetts is a solidly Democratic state, and there are many Democrats in elected office in the state who could challenge Brown.

In an odd twist of political gamesmanship, the law requiring a special election instead of an appointment from the governor in the event of a vacant seat was passed by Democrats passed in Massachusetts in 2004 in case Kerry resigned if he won the presidency. He did not. But Democrats at the time were trying to take the appointment power away from the sitting Republican governor -- Mitt Romney.

A request for comment from Sen. Brown’s office on the news was not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov302012

Hillary Clinton Reflects on Accomplishments, Challenges

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton reflected on her accomplishments as secretary of state over the last four years in a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy trends on Thursday.

She also touched on what she sees as America’s most pressing global challenges in the future, signaling that her time in the Obama administration is drawing to a close.

At the top of her remarks given at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Clinton took a moment to address the U.N. resolution passed in the General Assembly just minutes before she spoke that recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state.  She called the measure “unfortunate and counterproductive,” reiterating her warning earlier in the day that peace between Israel and the Palestinians would come through direct negotiations, not international resolutions.

“We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace they both deserve: two states for two people with a sovereign, viable independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel,” said Clinton.

The overall theme of Clinton’s address, however, was that economic and diplomatic challenges across the globe are changing the way the United States relates to both allies and foes.

“We do live in a rapidly changing world.  Many of the constants that shaped American foreign policy for decades are shifting.  And that poses new challenges for our global leadership,” she told the crowd.

Among those changes, she said, are the economic crises shaking allies in Europe, China’s continued rise as a global power, regime change in the Arab world as the U.S. works towards energy independence, a greater emphasis on strength through economics rather than arms, and a new generation growing up without the same pro-American sentiment held by their parents and grandparents.  

Clinton reflected on her travels to more than 112 countries, calling it ”shoe-leather diplomacy,” and emphasizing the importance of being on the ground.

“I have found it highly ironic that, in today’s world, when we can be anywhere virtually, more than ever people want us to show up, actually,” she said.  “Somebody said to me the other day, ‘I look at your travel schedule.  Why Togo?  Why the Cook Islands?’  No secretary of state had ever been to Togo before.  Togo happens to be on the U.N. Security Council.  Going there, making the personal investment, has a real strategic purpose.”

Among her accomplishments, she listed hosting town halls with global youth, raising awareness for religious minorities, protecting Internet freedom and advancing rights for women and the LGBT community around the world.

Clinton also reflected on arguably the darkest chapter of her tenure -- the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four State Department employees, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.  Clinton increased security at American embassies and consulates across the globe as a result of the attack, but reiterated that diplomats serving in dangerous places must continue to exist for American diplomacy to work.

“As we mourn fallen friends like Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was fearless in his dedication to diplomacy, we refuse to be intimidated.  Our people cannot live in bunkers and do their jobs,” Clinton said.  “So we will do what we always have done: pull together, learn and improve -- because America always emerges stronger and more confident.”

During a question-and-answer session following her speech, Clinton discussed the current and future challenges for America on the horizon.

She was asked about the conflict in Syria and whether it had reached a tipping point.  While Clinton agreed the rebels had grown stronger and more unified, she stopped short of saying the country was were turning in the opposition’s favor.

“It appears as though opposition in Syria is now capable of holding ground, and that they are better equipped and more able to bring the fight to the government forces, and so we follow closely where the government still maintains regime control and where it’s contested and where the opposition is making significant inroads,” she said.  “I don’t know that you can say that for the entire country there is yet a tipping point, but it certainly seems that the regime will be much harder-pressed in the next months.”

On U.S. engagement with Iran, Clinton said time is running out for Tehran to respond to the international community’s diplomatic efforts.  Ambassador Robert Wood reportedly told the International Atomic Energy Agency board in Vienna on Thursday that the United States has set a March deadline with Iran to start cooperating with the agency or else the issue will be referred to the U.N. Security Council -- a significant step towards ending diplomacy and heading towards intervention.

“I think what was meant about the March reference was either about the IAEA and its continuing work or the fact that we finished our election and now would be a good time to test the proposition that there can be some good-faith, serious negotiations before the Iranians get into their elections, which are going to heat up probably around the March period, heading toward a June election,” said Clinton.

“I think that we’ll see in the next few months whether there’s a chance for any kind of serious negotiation,” she said.  “And right now, I’m not sure that it can happen, but I certainly hope it does.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov202012

House Republicans Write Obama Letter Opposing Susan Rice Nomination

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although they have no say in her possible confirmation proceedings, 97 House Republicans have spoken out loud and clear about their opposition to President Obama nominating United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice as the next secretary of state.

Rice has come under attack by the GOP and some Democrats for initially stating that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 was the result of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam movie.

The Republican lawmakers, in a letter to the White House Monday, alleged that Rice, who was working off talking points from the CIA, "either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi affair."

It was eight days after Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed that "the American people learn(ed)...that the intelligence services quickly considered the attack an act of terrorism and that al Qaeda may have played a role," according to the letter.

In spite of Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, defending Rice, the House Republicans claimed she "caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world...we strongly oppose any efforts to nominate Ambassador Susan Rice for the position of Secretary of State" to replace outgoing envoy Hillary Clinton.

Obama hasn't made an announcement yet as to his pick for secretary of state, which will come down to the Senate affirming his selection.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun272012

Hillary Clinton to Be Most-Traveled Secretary of State in US History

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touches down in Latvia Thursday, she will hit a milestone, having traveled to a staggering 100 countries in less than four years. Clinton will become the most-traveled secretary of state in U.S. history.

The previous record holder was Madeleine Albright, who visited 96 countries when she was the nation’s top diplomat from 1997 to 2001.  Clinton’s predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, visited 85 countries in four years.

Rice talked to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night about how living out of a suitcase is a requirement of the job.  The frequent visits demonstrate that the secretary of state has to travel, “widely because the inbox for the world is really the American secretary of state’s inbox,” Rice said. “That is really what those numbers show. You have to get out there and represent the United States.”

Besides Lativia’s being the 100th country Secretary Clinton has visited, it will also be the first time a secretary of state has visited the tiny Eastern European country in nearly 20 years.  A senior State Department official called Clinton’s industrious travel, “a testament to the enormous activity that she has put into her job.”

And she’s not done yet. Clinton still has six more months before she says she will depart her post, which means more time on planes as the public face of U.S. diplomacy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher Dies

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Warren Christopher, the globetrotting statesman who was also an expert in domestic affairs, passed away last Friday in Los Angeles.  He was 85.

It was during the Democrat's time as secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997 that Christopher helped negotiate a peace deal in Bosnia, although he was less successful in trying to settle the long disputes between Israelis and Palestinians that continue today.

From 1977 to 1981, Christopher was undersecretary of state under former President Jimmy Carter and proved instrumental in forging the Panama Canal treaties.

He was also faced with the arduous task of attempting to win to release of 52 U.S. embassy workers taken captive by the Iranians in November 1979.  It wasn't until moments after Carter left office in January 1981 that the Americans were freed in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of Iranian assets.

At home, Christopher served on a commission to investigate allegations of brutality by the Los Angeles Police Department following the beating of Rodney King.  The panel's recommendations in 1991 led to the wide scale overhaul of police practices in Los Angeles.

Christopher was also used by Vice President Al Gore's campaign in 2000 to oversee the disputed vote count in Florida following the presidential election won eventually by then Texas governor and Republican George W. Bush after a Supreme Court vote.

At the time, Christopher was criticized for not standing up to the aggressive strategies used by his counterpart, former Secretary of State James Baker.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb042011

John Kerry Not Interested in Being Secretary of State

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., wants to make one thing perfectly clear:  He has no interest in being Secretary of State.

Of course, there is no opening.  Hillary Clinton is now Secretary of State and shows no sign of leaving any time soon.  But Senator Kerry, who now serves as Congress’s ambassador to the world in his role as chairman of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee has frequently faced speculation that he secretly covets Hillary Clinton’s job.

The most recent example:   A story in the Boston Globe, Kerry’s hometown newspaper, reports that Kerry “is running an unofficial campaign to become the next Secretary of State.”  The Boston paper also indicates Kerry may be using the crisis in Egypt as a backdrop to his "unoffical campaign."

“With Egypt as the backdrop,” the Globe said, “Kerry knows the truth of an often-cited maxim that is associated with Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Out of crisis, comes opportunity.”

ABC News called Senator Kerry’s office to ask if he is, in fact, running an “unofficial campaign” to become the next Secretary of State.  The answer:  a firm NO that came in the form of a 148-word statement from Kerry spokesman Jodi Seth.

“I don't know what else we can do to stop the parlor game speculation about who's coming and who's going,” the statement began.  “Lord knows we've knocked it down a thousand times over, and at a time of such challenge for American foreign policy the punditry is especially unwelcome and unhelpful.”

Seth continued, “The one thing that hasn't changed one iota is that John Kerry loves his job as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and as the senior senator from Massachusetts,” the statement continued. “He worked a long time to get this job, and doing your job so well doesn't mean you're auditioning for another job. So one last time:  the only job John Kerry is contemplating, or considering, is the one job he already has, and he isn't looking elsewhere. Sometimes in politics, no really means no, and sometimes the best place to be really is the place you already are, end of story."

Got that?  John Kerry is not auditioning to be Secretary of State.  He is not lobbying for the job.  He does not secretly covet the job.  He is perfectly happy right where he is.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio