Sen. John Kerry a 'front-runner' for Secretary of State, US News media reports


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, National Security Adviser Tom Donlion, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listen to President Barack Obama deliver a speech on Mideast and North Africa policy in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department May 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.


Chip Somodevilla

President Barack Obama was considering Sen. John Kerry for the post of Defense Secretary, despite the Massachusetts Democrat coveting the role of Secretary of State, US news media were reporting.

As part of a rearrangement of his national security team, Obama would likely also appoint John Brennan, his chief counterterrorism adviser, as a permanent replacement in the role of CIA director left vacant by scandal-plagued David Petraeus last week.

Michael Morell, the agency’s acting director, would take over if Brennan declined, the Washington Post reported

Hillary Clinton's job of Secretary of State will likely go to Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, senior administration officials told the Post.

The Boston Herald pointed out that Rice still faced scepticism over her perceived role in the Obama administration's decision to label the Sept. 11 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, as a violent protest as opposed to a planned terrorist attack.

The New York Times, meanwhile, wrote that Kerry was a "front-runner" to take over the State Department.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Michele Flour­noy, former undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon, had also has been mentioned as possible replacements for Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

However, Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jodi Seth, told the Post: “Senator Kerry’s only focus right now is his job as senior senator from Massachusetts and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.”

Panetta, while he said he had no plans to step down immediately, hinted that he may not remain in the post for Obama’s entire second term.

He told reporters traveling with him on a trip to Australia:

“Who the hell knows. It’s no secret that at some point I’d like to get back to California.” 

The White House declined to comment on the stories.

Politico wrote that Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, would need time to get up to speed on the the day-to-day running of the DoD.

However, his appointment would coincide with a "build-down" of America's armed forces and power "pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, topics he would be across in his role with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.