John Kerry now front-runner for US secretary of state

By Sarah Pilchick, December 14, 2012
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John Kerry with Israeli President Shimon Peres (Photo: AP)

John Kerry with Israeli President Shimon Peres (Photo: AP)

Senator John F. Kerry has become the front-runner to replace Hillary Clinton as US secretary of state.

The candidate assumed to be President Barack Obama’s first choice, Susan Rice, withdrew her name from consideration after weeks of Republican hysteria. Many members of the Republican Party had accused Ms Rice of purposefully spreading misinformation about the September 11th attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Ms Rice is currently the US ambassador to the UN.

Mr Kerry withdrew from the spotlight after his failed bid for the presidency in 2004, although he has remained an important and influential member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he leads.

Were Mr Obama to nominate Mr Kerry for the position, it is expected that Mr Kerry would be confirmed swiftly.

“Anyone who has worked with Senator Kerry knows his good, hard work ethic and his expertise on foreign relations.”

Many Republican members of the Senate, the body which bears responsibility for approving nominees to cabinet positions, have effusively praised Mr Kerry in what is a marked change from 2004.

“I think he would do a great job,” Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told the New York Times. “Anyone who has worked with Senator Kerry knows his good, hard work ethic and his expertise on foreign relations.”

Mr Kerry’s name had also been mentioned in conjunction with the secretary of defence position. Former Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, is now expected to assume that role. Ms Rice, meanwhile, is expected to become National Security Adviser.

Mr Kerry has, in his 28 years in the US Senate, established himself as staunchly pro-Israel. He has visited the country numerous times throughout his public life and firmly supports Israel’s right to defend its citizens against attack.

In his time in the Senate, he has also sponsored or co-sponsored myriad bills affirming Israel’s right to exist and thrive.

He also discovered through genealogical research conducted by the Boston Globe that his paternal grandfather had been born an Austrian Jew. His great-aunt and great-uncle died in Nazi concentration camps.

Last updated: 12:59pm, December 14 2012