- (Photo: Reuters / Mian Khursheed)
President Barack Obama has decided to nominate Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as the replacement of outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Democratic sources, who said a formal announcement is expected within days.
A Democrat who spoke to Kerry told CNN on Saturday that Obama has decided on Kerry, the chairman of the chamber's Foreign Relations Committee, to be the next secretary of State. ABC News also quoted sources as saying that a formal announcement had been delayed because of Friday's mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., but is now expected within a week.
Sources spoke of Obama's decision the day the State Department said 65-year-old Clinton, who is expected to leave her job soon, sustained a concussion on Thursday after becoming extremely dehydrated and fainting while suffering from a stomach virus.
Clinton is recovering at home and has been advised by her doctors to continue to rest and avoid strenuous activity and cancel all work events for the next week, including her scheduled testimony before congressional panels examining the attack against a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 according to The Associated Press.
Kerry, the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nominee, emerged as the front-runner for the top diplomatic post after embattled U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice decided to remove her name from consideration on Thursday.
Kerry would be a "popular choice with the Senate," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told CNN on Friday. Also on Friday, ABC reported that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was preparing to fill Kerry's Senate seat and had held talks with Vicki Kennedy, the widow of former Sen. Edward Kennedy.
In his current role, Kerry has traveled around the world, including to Pakistan, on behalf of the Obama administration, and also served as the stand-in for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during Obama's debate prep sessions.
Kerry, a five-term senator, is close to some of the department's top officials. "All the ambassadors go through that committee, and all the confirmation-level senior officials," The Hill quoted a source as saying. "So there is depth there. It's not as if he necessarily walked the halls [of State], but the halls have walked to him. That contact – real contact – over the years is not to be discounted."
Rice withdrew from consideration last week, saying she did not want a drawn-out, polarizing nomination process over her remarks after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other employees were killed. She called the violence, which later turned out to be a planned terrorist attack, part of "a spontaneous reaction" against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has publicly said he prefers Kerry as Secretary of State. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have also voiced support for Kerry.