With Hillary Clinton expected to step down sometime in 2013, Washington is abuzz with speculation about who will be the next Secretary of State. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice are the two most obvious candidates, though there are whispers that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is also under consideration.
So far, the intrigue has been fueled by a series of unsourced quotes from administration officials and Democratic insiders, who appear to be forming ranks around their respective candidates. One source quoted by Politico who is "familiar with the circumstances," reported that Kerry "has the inside track," having worked on President Obama's debate-prep during the campaign.
"Kerry was a very close second the first time around. He wanted it; he had several interviews. There was an assumption that he would get it if Hillary said no," the source said, noting that Hillary will soon be out of the picture. Leslie Gelb, citing insiders, made a similar point in Newsweek back in April, suggesting that Kerry might get the nod because he'd log lots of miles and "interfere least with policymaking." (He also made the case for Rice and Donilon,)
Another anonymous senior State Department official quoted in today's Boston Globe said that Kerry is the favorite in the "water cooler conversation" in Foggy Bottom. "Because of the number of trips he has taken as head of Senate foreign relations he is pretty well known to a number of people and he is very highly regarded. So I think it would be a popular choice," the official said.[view whole blog post ]