Clinton Says Yes To Secretary Of State

Sen. Hillary Clinton has agreed to be President-elect Obama's nominee for secretary of state; New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner is in line to be treasury secretary; and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is up for the top job at Commerce.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. A flurry of names emerged today as the Obama administration appears to be taking shape. Sources close to Senator Hillary Clinton have told the New York Times, she decided to accept the offer to be named secretary of state in the Obama administration. NPR has confirmed that report. We have also confirmed two other names as Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, and as Commerce Secretary, Bill Richardson. Joining us to talk about the developments is NPR correspondent Scott Horsley. And Scott, let's clarify the status here. All three of these folks we've mentioned: Senator Clinton, Bill Richardson, Timothy Geithner, all have been offered the jobs and accepted them?

SCOTT HORSLEY: That's what sources are telling NPR. I should say with respect to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state - both the Obama camp and the Clinton camp are saying it's not a completely done deal, but there are reports that Hillary Clinton has made the decision to take the offer.

BLOCK: OK, and we'll talk more about Senator Clinton in a little bit, but first let's talk about the man who is evidently in line to be secretary of the treasury, Timothy Geithner.

HORSLEY: That's right. He's very well thought of. The stock market soared on news of his selection today. He's young, but former treasury secretary Robert Rubin says you quickly forget that because Tim Geithner is so smart. As president of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, he has been connected to Wall Street, he knows Wall Street, but he spent his career in government, so he hasn't been getting rich off the excesses of Wall Street that the rest of us are now paying a price for.

BLOCK: And he also used to work for a man whose name was also bandied around for the job of treasury secretary and that's Larry Summers?

HORSLEY: That's right. Larry Summers was sort of Tim Geithner's mentor at treasury in the Clinton era. And Geithner is thought of as being similarly smart like Summers, but also more diplomatic and more willing to let other people in the room feel like they're smart. He is known for his self deprecating sense of humor, and his skill at building consensus. In fact, the descriptions of him sometimes sound a little bit like those of the president-elect himself.

BLOCK: Another name, Bill Richardson, for commerce secretary, Bill Richardson of course, himself a one time presidential contender.

HORSLEY: That's right. He was an early contender that this go around and of course the New Mexico governor, he served as the U.N. Ambassador and energy secretary under former President Clinton, but then made headlines when instead of endorsing Hillary Clinton, he came out for Barack Obama fairly early in the primary season. He would be a high ranking Latino cabinet member and that's something that the Obama camp has been trying to achieve. Latinos voted for Obama by a better than two-to-one margin and, of course, they are a growing share of the U.S. electorate.

BLOCK: OK, let's talk now about Senator Clinton and she has apparently had some reservations about leaving the Senate and whether this would be the right move for her?

HORSLEY: That's right. She is a junior senator, but obviously has influence there and wondered about whether she would be actually taking a demotion to become secretary of state. She had a secret meeting - maybe the worst kept secret ever - with Barack Obama a week ago, Thursday. Since then sources close to the transition tell us there have been more substantive talks between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And now there are reports that she has made the decision that this is a job she wants.

BLOCK: You know, at the same time, there were a lot of reservations on the other side from the Obama team about Hillary Clinton's husband, the former president Bill Clinton, and his connections in the business world through his foundation. What happened to those concerns?

HORSLEY: That's right. We're now told that the financial disclosures for Bill Clinton's complicated business deals have been worked out and that things are on track. That said, we still don't expect a formal announcement for the secretary of state's job until after Thanksgiving.

BLOCK: OK, Scott thanks very much.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Melissa.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Scott Horsley.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Hillary Clinton To Head State Department

Word of Cabinet appointments by President-elect Barack Obama flew fast and furious late Friday afternoon: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), his archrival for the Democratic nomination, is his choice for secretary of state, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) for commerce secretary and New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner for secretary of the Treasury.

Obama's selection of Clinton is both conventional and controversial. Though she accepted his offer on Friday, she must still be confirmed by the Senate.

It's a conventional choice because she is arguably one of the best-qualified candidates for the job. The highest diplomatic position in the country holds enough prestige for the former first lady, who has been a senator from New York since 2000. She sits on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said on Friday that, in the eyes of Europe, Hillary Clinton would be a good choice for secretary of state.

"She is a very capable person whose experience is well-known," Solana told reporters.

But her selection is also controversial, because her appointment would naturally include her legendary lightning rod of a husband, former President Bill Clinton. The Obama transition team has been exploring Bill Clinton's worldwide financial activities and his charity work to see if there might be potential conflicts of interest if his wife becomes secretary of state.

The New York Times reported that Bill Clinton forked over a list of more than 200,000 donors to his philanthropic foundation.

Sen. Clinton takes pride in the role her husband's White House played in forging peace in Northern Ireland. Israel's right to exist, she says on her Senate Web site, "must never be put in question."

She also says, "Whether it is bringing an end to the war in Iraq, bolstering our efforts in Afghanistan, continuing to provide strong support for Israel, or pushing for an end to the genocide in Darfur, I remain focused on pursuing real solutions to our most critical national security and foreign policy challenges."

Over the past few years, Clinton has spoken often of her approach to foreign policy. She has said she believes that the U.S. must "renew internationalism for a new century."

"We cannot face the global terrorist threat or other profound challenges alone," she told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2006. She also said she "values diplomacy as well as a strong military."

And, she added, "Our foreign policy must blend both idealism and realism in the service of American interests. ... In an increasingly interdependent world, it is in our interest to stand for the human rights to promote religious freedom, democracy, women's rights, social justice and economic empowerment. But reality informs us we cannot force others — nations and people — to accept those values. We have to support those who embrace them and lead by example."

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: