Clinton Accepts Sec. Of State Offer

Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving also discusses two other nominations that came out Friday: Bill Richardson for Sec. of Commerce and Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host.

This is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host.

And I'm Alex Cohen. Earlier this year, the writers' strike shut down Hollywood for months. Now, actors are talking about a possible strike, too. That story just ahead.

BRAND: But first, let's say you're up for a plum job with a brand new startup that'll look good on your resume, but you kind of like your current job and you see room for growth. What do you do? For advice, let's turn now to NPR news analyst Juan Williams. So, Juan, what's your advice? And let's call this hypothetical person - let's just call her Hillary.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JUAN WILLIAMS: I like that, Madeleine. That's cute. Well, let's say your name is Hillary and your last name is Clinton and you're in the Senate, and you've been offered a wonderful job over at Foggy Bottom in the State Department. What do you do? Well, I think in this case, first of all, you keep your word, because she went to Chicago to meet with President-elect Obama about a week ago. And the deal was that if Senator Obama went through the vetting process and found that there was no reason - especially her husband's dealings and donations to his presidential foundation - no obstacle to appointing her as secretary of state, nominating her, I should say, then he would offer her the job and she agreed, she would accept. And now we're really down to some smaller issues, and it looks as if Hillary Clinton will have the opportunity to be secretary of state. So, it's a matter of whether or not she keeps her word.

BRAND: So, the Senate - could she get some sterling offer from senators, from Senate leadership, to get her to stay there?

WILLIAMS: No, you know, she's tried over the years. Within the last year, she tried to create a special taskforce on healthcare, and then that was seen as threat to Senator Ted Kennedy, who leads that Senate Committee on Health. And then she tried to engineer a deal where she might be in charge of something called the Democratic Policy Committee, but again that was seen as an affront to Byron Dorgan, the senator from North Dakota. So, it's a little bit frustrating for her, although I can imagine that she would become the face of Democratic opposition to President Obama in the Senate. I can imagine that she would be a real source of comfort for everybody who thinks that the Obama administration is not moving quickly enough. Nonetheless, she would rather be in a power position, and I think that's why ultimately she will be secretary of state.

BRAND: And Juan, who would replace her in the Senate?

WILLIAMS: Good question, because it's up to the governor of New York, David Paterson, and so, there's all sorts of local political angles to be played here. I think the biggest name here in the game is the Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York. But you know what? He's a former HUD secretary, as you know, under President Clinton, but he's also a potential challenger for Governor Paterson when the governor is up for reelection. I think...

BRAND: So, that's convenient for David Paterson, to get him out of the way?

WILLIAMS: It is. But then again, you never know. Then there are people like the Buffalo mayor, Byron Brown, but nobody knows his name outside of upstate New York. One possibility the New York Daily News mentioned earlier this week would be Nydia Velazquez, the congresswoman from New York. She was the first Puerto Rican to join the House of Representatives back in 1992. And she would be what they call in political circles, you know, killing two political birds, because she's Hispanic and a woman, and both critical voting blocs if Paterson wants to get reelected. So, you could look at her; you could look at maybe even Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat from Westchester. And I might add you've got not only Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in this game, but why not Bill Clinton, who also is a resident of New York?

BRAND: No, really? Come on.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WILLIAMS: Politics never stops amusing you. Does it, Madeleine?

BRAND: No, wow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Well, all right. So, let's get to your best political conversation of the week.

WILLIAMS: You know, it's about John McCain. Everybody in town just watched as McCain came back, and it was very low key. And not only was it at low key; there was a sense of, you know, sadness about it. There he was; suddenly Joe Lieberman's over arguing with the Democrats and trying to get back in with the Democrats and retain his position, in terms of a leader on the Democratic side, no longer hanging around with John McCain. The right wing of the Republican Party never wanted much to do with John McCain, and so they're not rallying to him; they're not offering him any leadership position. So, John McCain is kind of out there on his own, and everybody is saying, you know, what's to come of John McCain? And the answer is, you know, John McCain will try to be his own man, but the fact is he's a man really without a country in the U.S. Senate at this moment.

BRAND: NPR news analyst Juan Williams, always a pleasure.

WILLIAMS: Nice to be with you, Madeleine.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Coming up, punk-rock memorabilia goes on sale at Christie's. That's so punk-rock. More from Day to Day coming up.

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