Confidants: Clinton to Take Secretary of State Job

Posted November 21, 2008 at 3:08pm

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) reportedly will accept President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination to become the next secretary of State, the New York Times reported Friday.

Citing two of Clinton’s “confidants,” the Times said the former first lady decided to take the job after engaging in a fresh round of talks with Obama on the subject. Those discussions gave the two one-time presidential rivals time to get more comfortable with one another.

Rumors have been flying for days that Clinton was in line to get the job. And while her staff didn’t discount the latest reports, senior adviser Philippe Reines said any reports of a final agreement are “premature.”

“We’re still in discussions, which are very much on track. Any reports beyond that are premature,” Reines said.

Clinton’s decision would mean that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) would not end up handing her a ceremonial leadership title in the next Congress. Although Reid had resisted the idea — and installing her in leadership would have likely caused strife within his Conference — Reid was prepared to do so amid pressure from Clinton’s allies.

But the nomination of Clinton will almost surely cause its own brand of fireworks in the Senate early next year. Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have long been the targets of the GOP’s more extreme right-wing elements, and confirmation hearings could become a stage for Republicans to reopen President Clinton’s scandal-plagued tenure in the White House.

Additionally, Republicans will almost assuredly press for Bill Clinton to make public financial records detailing payments from foreign entities, individuals and governments for speaking engagements since he left the White House. Assuming Sen. Clinton is confirmed for the secretary of State post, the task of filling her Senate seat falls to New York Gov. David Paterson (D).

Paterson hasn’t said much publicly about the prospect of making an appointment, except to say that women, Latinos and upstaters would get special consideration.

The long list of potential appointees includes Democratic Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand, Brian Higgins, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks, Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velázquez. Higgins and Gillibrand represent portions of upstate New York.

Other possibilities include state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — whose father once held the seat — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D), Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion (D), and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D), whose father is a law partner of Paterson’s father.

Whomever is appointed, an election will be held in 2010 to fill the remaining two years of Clinton’s term. That race will take place at the same time that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to run for a third term.