Obama nominates former rival Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State
They were once rivals for the White House, but today saw a moment of healing for the Democratic party when US President-elect Barack Obama formally nominated Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
Her appointment will need to be confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and she will have to resign her seat in the senior chamber of the US Congress to take up the post.
The wife of former US President Bill Clinton has represented New York in the US Senate since 2001.
If her nomination is confirmed she will be fouth in the line of Presidential Succession behind the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro Tempore of the Senate.
She will be the first former First Lady to hold Cabinet office – Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed as a delegate to the UN by Presidents Truman and Kennedy.
Hillary Clinton is a bold appointment by the President-elect, especially given the attacks he made on her foreign policy credentials during their battle for the Democratic nomination.
She fought a tough campaign for the Democratic nomination for President, but was beaten by Barack Obama after a series of tactical mistakes allowed him to surge ahead mid-campaign.
He went on to win more than 50% of the popular vote, the first Democrat to do so since the 1970s, and beat Republican candidate John McCain on November 4th.
Senator Clinton’s support for the Iraq war, and Obama’s opposition to it, became a bitter battleground in the early stages of the campaign.
During a debate in February Senator Obama said: “On what I believe was the single most important foreign policy decision of this generation, whether or not to go to war in Iraq, I believe I showed the judgment of a commander in chief. And I think that Senator Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that.”
However, when they appeared together today he said he was confident in her abilities.
“Hillary Clinton possesses an extraordinary intelligence and a remarkable work ethic,” President-elect Obama said.
“I’m proud she will be our next Secretary of State.
“She’s an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world’s leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world.”
President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will take office on January 20th.
The new leader of the free world announced several other key appointments at his press conference in Chicago this morning.
“To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example,” he said.
“The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.”
In keeping with his own election as the first African-American President and Senator Clinton’s nomination as the first former First Lady to serve as Secretary of State, there were several milestones among the new security team.
Robert Gates will stay on as Defence Secretary, the first holder of that office to serve two Presidents from different political parties.
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was nominated as the first female Secretary of Homeland Security.
If the nomination of Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder as Attorney General is confirmed he will become the first African-American to hold that office.
Susan Rice had been tipped for the key role of National Security Adviser but President-elect Barack Obama has nominated former marine General James Jones.
Ms Rice, who has served as a foreign relations adviser for Obama, is to be appointed US ambassador to the United Nations.
The nomination of General Jones has delighed Republicans.
Former Senator John Warner, who until his recent retirement served on the Senate Armed Service Committee, said:
“The triumvirate of Gates, Clinton and Jones to lead Obama’s national security team instills great confidence at home and abroad, and further strengthens the growing respect for the President-elect’s courage and ability to exercise sound judgment in selecting the ‘best and the brightest’ to implement our nation’s security policies.”
Washington residents are already planning for the massive party that accompanies the Presidential Inauguration every four years.
Gay rights groups are considering holding balls and other events to mark the start of President Obama’s residence in the White House.
Lesbian and gay Americans have much to celebrate – the President-elect is a vocal supporter of LGBT rights.
In a statement published on the Presidential transition website last month, Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Biden committed themselves to strengthening federal hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act.
The President-elect also committed to support civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples.
“Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples,” the statement read.
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“Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defence of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognised unions.
“These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.”
He said he wanted an end to the ban on openly gay people serving in the US Armed Forces, and said he would support federal protection in employment for LGBT people.
President-elect Obama said he believes in adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“A child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not,” the statement read.
The new administration has pledged to develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies within 12 months of taking office.