, WASHINGTON, Nov 14 – A week after winning re-election President Barack Obama has yet to reveal his new White House dream team amid fierce jostling for coveted posts key to shaping America’s foreign and defence policy.
Speculation is heating up in Washington corridors about who will be crowned the new secretaries of state and defence, with veteran US Senator John Kerry, the US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and national security advisor Tom Donilon the odds-on favourites to be among the new cabinet faces.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday “the president has not made a decision on personnel matters,” refusing to discuss any of the rumours.
But Obama’s closely-guarded calculations may have been thrown askew by Friday’s shock resignation of CIA director David Petraeus, opening up another job.
Kerry, the long-time chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee with foreign policy stamped into his DNA, is a well-known, respected figure in international circles and has long dreamed of becoming secretary of state.
But the outspoken, feisty Rice is part of Obama’s inner circle and has been a loyal champion of US foreign policy at the UN. US dailies reported on Tuesday her nomination to replace Hillary Clinton may be almost in the bag.
Kerry might instead be tapped for the Pentagon to take over from Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, both the New York Times and the Washington Post said, quoting White House officials.
They described him as a “war hero” and cited his service in the US Navy in Vietnam as qualifications for the job.
Both nominations could be problematic though.
Rice has come under fire from Republicans who have alleged there was a bid to cover-up the circumstances surrounding September’s attack on the US mission in Benghazi.
Too many questions remained unanswered and “Susan Rice would have an incredibly difficult time getting through the Senate,” veteran Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday.
Carney refused to be drawn on whether Rice could survive a contentious confirmation hearing, saying only that Obama believes she “has done an excellent job and is grateful for her service.”
“It depends whether the president wants her bad enough in that position to go… fight” for her, Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, told AFP.