Kerry seen as likely nom­i­nee for top diplo­mat

Se­na­tor has served as en­voy to Pak­istan, Afghanistan.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Donna Cas­sata John Kerry is chair­man of Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

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.

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