Kerry seen as likely nominee for top diplomat
Senator has served as envoy to Pakistan, Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. John Kerry stands tall as President Barack Obama’s good soldier.
The Massachusetts lawmaker has flown to Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times to tamp down diplomatic disputes, spending hours drinking tea and taking walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai or engaging in delicate negotiations in Islamabad.
It’s a highly unusual role for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman: envoy with a special but undefined portfolio.
Kerry has pushed the White House’s national security agenda in the Senate with mixed results. He successfully ensured ratification of a nuclear arms reduction treaty in 2010 and most recently failed to persuade Republicans to back a U.N. pact on the rights of the disabled.
Throughout this past election year, he skewered Obama’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney, at nearly every opportunity and was a vocal booster for the president’s re- election. Kerry memorably told delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August: “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago.”
Obama seems likely to reward all that work by nominating the 69-yearold Kerry, perhaps in the coming days, to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the nation’s top diplomat. The prospects for the five-term senator soared last week when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a top contender for the post, withdrew from consideration to avoid a fierce fight with Senate Republicans.
A Kerry nomination has been discussed with congressional leaders, and consultations between the White House and congressional Democrats have centered on the fate of his Senate seat, according to officials familiar with the situation who were not authorized to publicly discuss the talks.
If the seat were in play, it could boost the prospects for recently defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown to win back a job in Washington.