In a move that has political insiders shaking their heads and many supporters of the first African-American President elect fuming, Barack Obama is set to tap Democratic primary rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his Secretary of State.
Senior aides confirm that Obama will name Clinton after Thanksgiving after former President Bill Clinton agreed to curtail his often-controversial activities with his foundation and cut back on his foreign travel and speeches.
The decision infuriates many Obama supporters who feel the nation needs a clean break from the politics of a past that includes both Clintons. Others are worried that the Clintons will use the powerful cabinet post to pursue their own agenda even when it conflicts with the policies of the new President.
Despite the worries, Obama appears to have made his decision.
President-elect Barack Obama plans to nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state after Thanksgiving, a new milestone for the former first lady and a convergence of two political forces who fought hard for the presidency.
One week after the former primary rivals met secretly to discuss the idea of Clinton becoming the nation’s top diplomat, an Obama adviser said Thursday that the two sides were moving quickly toward making it a reality, barring any unforeseen problems.
The senior adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity because the president-elect is not prepared to officially announce the nomination, said Obama believes Clinton would bring instant stature and credibility to U.S. diplomatic relations.
Obama is convinced the advantages of Clinton serving far outweighed potential downsides, the adviser said.
Transition aides said the two camps have worked out financial disclosure issues involving Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and the complicated international funding of his foundation that operates in more than 40 countries. The aides said Obama and Hillary Clinton have had substantive conversations about the secretary of state job.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is on track to be nominated for secretary of state in the Obama administration, transition aides said on Thursday night.
Days of back and forth followed the meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and Clinton last week in Chicago, when the two principals first discussed the post, with advisers to Clinton suggesting she might not want the job and questions persisting about the business work and international ties of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
But the former president agreed to a thorough vetting, and Obama advisers did not back away from reports that the New York senator was the president-elect’s top pick. On Thursday night, aides said that the vetting issues have been resolved, and the selection could occur soon, perhaps immediately after Thanksgiving.
Democratic leaders in the Senate are prepared to give Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton a still-undefined leadership role there if she does not become Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Democratic officials close to the situation said Thursday.
The discussions about an enhanced position for Mrs. Clinton are factoring into her deliberations over joining the cabinet, the officials said. Mrs. Clinton, the junior senator from New York, is wrestling with whether to abandon her independence to become the nation’s top diplomat or remain in a chamber where lack of seniority limits her influence.
Mrs. Clinton asked to join the Senate Democratic leadership after the Nov. 4 election, and party leaders began trying to figure out a way to accommodate her without dislodging any of the current leaders, Democratic officials said. The conversations, they added, preceded Mr. Obama’s approach to her about becoming secretary of state and are on the table if she turns the job down.
Although advisers to Mr. Obama have said he has not made a formal offer, most Democrats believe the decision is hers to make, and friends said Thursday that she was wavering.
One friend said Mrs. Clinton decided late Wednesday to say no, reasoning that she would have more freedom in the Senate. By midday Thursday, the friend said, she was “back in the indecisive column again.” By the end of the day, another associate said she could accept by Friday.