Title Ready for Clinton if She Stays

Posted November 21, 2008 at 11:13am

Senior Senate Democratic sources acknowledged Friday that if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) remains in the chamber, she would be given a leadership title, though it does not appear that position would have any serious substantive authority.

Clinton’s Senate future appears to be a nonissue, at least if news reports are true that she is set to become President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of State. But if she stays, Democratic Senate leaders are planning to carve out a special role for the former first lady, sources said.

“There are options,” one senior Democratic aide said, adding that any Clinton role would be “all predicated on if she stays.”

The aide wouldn’t elaborate, only to say that the position would a thank you “for all the work she’s done for the party.”

The mere fact Democratic leaders were prepared to hand Clinton a leadership position could cause future headaches for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the party’s failed 2004 presidential nominee, did not find a slot in leadership, added staff or even a largely ceremonial title waiting for him when he returned to the Senate. Likewise, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who also lost this year’s primary to Obama, did not see his unsuccessful presidential bid translate into heightened status in the chamber.

There’s been much speculation about what role Clinton would play if she stays in the Senate, with some suggesting she may set her sights on running for Majority Leader or lay the groundwork for a second presidential bid. Those options — plus the recently discussed ceremonial role — would be off the table assuming Clinton accepts the nomination to be Obama’s secretary of State.

News outlets have been reporting Friday that Obama will tap Clinton for the high-profile Cabinet post shortly after Thanksgiving.