Beyond John Kerry: The Secretary of State Candidates Now That Rice Is Out

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So, it's official: Ambassador Susan Rice will not be Secretary of State — she's withdrawn and President Obama has accepted, and John McCain is twisting his face in pleasure somewhere. Which means... John Kerry, right? Well, yes, probably — all the conservatives just love him now. But speculation also puts some other options in front of the president between now and whenever Hillary Clinton steps down — including, but not limited to, her husband.

The Long Shot

Name: Howard Berman

Credentials: 15 terms in Congress; served on important security committees; reputation for being discreet. 

Source of Speculation: A bunch of people talking about it to reporters. But not in a "we hear that Obama's thinking..." kind of way. Berman just lost re-election after his district in California was re-zoned, and the guy who beat him said he thought he might be good for the job — and so it went from there

Likelihood of Actually Getting It: Slim. Berman doesn't even have the kind of national profile necessary for such an international job, and no White House officials are leaking his name. It's all good-will consolation prize quotes from his teammates after he just lost his job. 

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The Really Long Shot

Name: Bill Clinton

Credentials: Served two terms as President; former Gov. of Arkansas; is insanely popular; Obama owes him a favor for helping to save his campaign with his legendary, mostly-improvised convention speech

Source of Speculation: Joe Nocera thinks it's a good idea, and a New York Post report from June said Clinton might be angling for the Secretary of State job under a potential Ander Cuomo Presidency if Hillary does decide not to run in 2016. "I think everyone who knows Bill Clinton knows he'd love to be secretary of state because he's so smart and because he knows so much about the world," an 'insider' told the Post.

Likelihood of Actually Getting It: Dream on.

The Fool-Me-Twice Shot

Name: Jon Huntsman

Credentials: Former Utah Gov, former Ambassador to China and Singapore, former Republican presidential candidate. 

Source of Speculation: An Associated Press report that said "officials" were looking at him for the job. 

Likelihood of Actually Getting It: Slim, for different reasons. Namely that he'd probably never accept the appointment. Huntsman was the Republican Obama's team was most scared of in the last election, and the President named him his Ambassador to China, so it's clear Obama thinks highly of him. But Huntsman has dreams of potentially running for the Big Job again, potentially against Hillary in 2016, and this would make it pretty hard — if not impossible — to get Republican support for that. 

The Safe Bet

Name: William Burns

Credentials: Current Deputy Secretary of State.

Source of Speculation: The same report that named Huntsman as a candidate. 

Likelihood of Actually Getting It: Good, if not great. He's Hillary's current number two, and he's getting good buzz with "insiders," apparently. The report that floated his name left things a bit unspectacular, though. Burns, "is a career diplomat who has no political baggage and would be unlikely to stir significant opposition among lawmakers." So, basically, he's an unsexy pick that wouldn't garner any headlines. 

The Safest Bet

Name: John Kerry

Credentials: He's getting it. 

Source of Speculation: He's getting it.

Likelihood of Actually Getting It: Guys, it's going to be Kerry. Just stop. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.