Obama said to be weighing GOP's Hagel for Defense chief
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 7:16 p.m.
WASHINGTON — President Obama is expected to announce his nominees for secretaries of State and Defense in the next two weeks, with former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel on the short list of potential choices to head the Pentagon, senior administration officials said on Tuesday.
Hagel, whose appointment would give Obama's reshuffled second-term Cabinet a bipartisan cast, met the Democratic president at the White House this week to discuss a post on his national security team. But there was no sign that Obama had decided on any of the key nominations he will put forth.
Obama is still deliberating whether to present his top national security appointments, likely to include a new CIA director, in a single high-profile package this month or name them one-by-one, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Other top contenders to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are believed to include former senior Pentagon official Michele Flournoy, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
Complicating matters, Obama is also deciding whether to nominate Kerry as secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton or to go with Susan Rice, embattled U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Rice is a longtime confidante of the president, but picking her would lead to a tough Senate confirmation battle over her comments in the wake of the killing of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has coveted the job as America's top diplomat and would face a much smoother confirmation process if nominated. It is unclear, however, whether he would accept the Pentagon post instead.
If Obama nominates Kerry for State, he could the risk opening up a safe Democratic Senate seat in Massachusetts, which Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican who just lost his seat to Elizabeth Warren, could run for in a special election.
Obama, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, reiterated that Rice is “highly qualified” for the job, but said, “I haven't made a decision about secretary of State.”
Obama's choices for State and Defense will essentially set the tone for his administration's handling of a wide range of global issues in his second term, including Middle East upheaval, Iran's nuclear standoff with the West and efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan.
With candidates still going through the vetting process, Obama is not expected to reveal his choices before next week, but he has every intention of making his announcements before the end of the year, the administration official said.
The choice of Hagel, a moderate on foreign policy who co-chairs Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board, would give the president a Republican in his Cabinet at a time when he is trying to win bipartisan cooperation from congressional Republicans on taxes and spending to avoid a “fiscal cliff.”
It is possible that Hagel's name was being floated to show Obama's willingness to reach across the aisle, even if he ultimately does not nominate him.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S. to cut nuclear ICBMs, keep launch silos under new START treaty
- Obama administration delays decision on Keystone XL pipeline
- SpaceX supply ship makes Easter cargo delivery to space station
- Medicaid paid $12M for Illinois dead, audit finds
- Iranian envoy officially blocked by law