Secretary of State John Kerry's speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the U.S. Diplomacy Center in Washington, D.C. Wednesday included an intriguing aside that appeared to reference the upcoming 2016 presidential election. Kerry spoke after remarks by each of the five former secretaries of state in attendance: Henry Kissinger, James Baker, III, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Hillary Clinton (Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz were not present.) After extolling the accomplishments of each of the five former top diplomats, Kerry said, "Join me, all of you, in thanking five of our six living former secretaries of state... They all look so great, it makes me -- I'm sort of thinking 2016, OK." The audience laughed.
Kerry of course has had presidential aspirations, winning the Democratic nomination in 2004 but ultimately losing to George W. Bush. At age 73 on inauguration day in 2017, Kerry would be the oldest president to assume his first term in the White House. (Reagan was older when reelected in 1984.) Kerry is about three years older than a more likely 2016 candidate present at Wednesday's ceremony, Hillary Clinton, but so far Clinton has declined to make known her aspirations.
Kerry had glowing words for Mrs. Clinton during his speech, saying, "Hillary Clinton came to the state department to rebuild alliances and restore our place in the world at a time when people were questioning it... and breathed new life into old partnerships." Kerry's praise of Clinton seemed to come at the expense of her immediate predecessor Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's secretary of state during his second term, although Kerry did not mention Rice during his remarks.
A State Department spokesperson said that a scheduling conflict prevented Rice from attending Wednesday's ceremony, and that George Shultz (who will turn 94 in December) had also been invited but did not attend, though no reason was given. The spokesperson also said that Kerry simply misspoke when referencing "six living former secretaries of state" when in fact there are seven.
In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry made the point that his department is not just concerned with foreign affairs. The State Department tweeted the following comments of the secretary at the hearing:
It's not often officials from the nation’s largest business lobby and an AFL-CIO-affiliated union speak to one another, let alone work together. But last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and North America’s Building Trades Unions held a joint press conference on Capitol Hill in support of the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil from Northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Nearby that same day, exactly five years after Trans-Canada Corp.
The United States Senate voted 94 to 3 to confirm one of its own, John Kerry of Massachusetts, for the office of secretary of state. Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (both of Texas) and James Inhofe of Oklahoma were the only senators to vote against Kerry's nomination to succeed Hillary Clinton at the State Department. Kerry himself voted "present."
In a joint interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, Clinton reveals that Obama knew all along that expectations were set too high for him when he first came into office:
"What did he promise you [in order to accept the secretary of state job? And has he kept the promises?" Kroft asked Clinton, seated in front of Obama.
Barack Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, blamed Susan Rice for withdrawing her name from consideration to be the next secretary of state, not Obama. She made the comments this morning on national television:
It was believed that Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, would either get the nod for secretary of state or, as a consolation prize, national security adviser. Regardless, the conventional wisdom held, Rice would be promoted in Obama's second term
But after today, it does not look like Rice, who has been under fire for mishandling the response to the Benghazi terror attack, will be appointed to either position.