Who will succeed Hillary?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo by: U.S. State Department

U.S. President Barack Obama and the likely contender from the Republican Party, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, will be battling it out in the presidential elections in November. Regardless who wins, the international community will likely see a new face in U.S. foreign affairs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has repeatedly said she will not be seeking a second term when her tenure ends this year, expressing her desire to retire from the “high wire” of American politics. So who will take on the role of secretary of state when she leaves? Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said “influential lips” in Washington “whisper” of a few names.

Insiders say Obama is eyeing John Kerry, current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Also on the list is U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, for her “blend of soft and hard line,” and National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, who Gelb said is regarded as the “wisest” policy and political head.

Meanwhile, Romney’s choices, “almost certainly” will include outgoing World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Stephen Hadley and Richard Haas. Hadley was national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, while Haas is president of CFR. All three held senior jobs under Republican administrations.

William Burns, current deputy secretary of state, and Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs under the Bush administration, have also been mentioned as potential candidates. Neither identified with a political party but have “impressive skills,” Gelb wrote.

Clinton sure is a tough act to follow, but the diplomatic work awaiting the next Secretary of State is far more challenging.

Who would rise up to the challenge?

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.