The Chicago Sun Times’s report on Friday saying that if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to choose between U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, to succeed her, Clinton would likely opt for Senator Kerry:
“Hillary is not close to Rice, who is tough — but is not the friendliest person,” said a top White House source. “And Hillary’s brief comment recently that Rice had done ‘a great job’ was considered underwhelming and tepid,” the source added.
Apparently, if this report is accurate, Clinton and Rice have not mended fences since Clinton ran for the White House during the 2007-2008 Democratic presidential primary against then-Senator Barack Obama. Additionally, given the icy history between Clinton and Rice it is not surprising if Clinton is secretly supporting John Kerry for Secretary of State.
The Associated Press reported in December of 2008 that the Obama foreign policy team had displayed “cracks” in unity as both Clinton and Rice began to set up shop with separate transition teams in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood: (bolding is mine)
As Secretary of State-pick Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.N. envoy-choice Susan Rice separately visited the diplomatic agency’s headquarters in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, persons familiar with the transition said that Rice wants to install her own transition team inside the department.
Such a move by an incoming U.N. ambassador is rare, if not unprecedented, because the job is based at the United Nations in New York, where Rice already has a small transition staff, the sources familiar with the incoming administration.
The push by Rice, an early Obama supporter whose position the President-elect wants to elevate to a cabinet post, is also a signal that she intends to use her influence with the new president to play a more significant role than previous U.N. envoys, they said. The transition sources spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Officials with Clinton’s transition team declined to comment on the matter, and aides to Rice could not immediately be reached. State Department officials declined to comment on issues related to the transition.
It was not clear if Clinton and Rice _ who had strained relations during the Democratic primaries because of Rice’s steadfast backing of Obama _ saw each other at the State Department as Clinton left the building shortly after Rice arrived.
During the presidential campaign, some Clinton aides saw Rice’s early decision to back Obama as a betrayal because of her previous role as a high State Department official during President Bill Clinton’s administration. Rice’s desire to place her own team in Washington could fuel speculation that those tensions will carry into the new administration.
The officials could not say if Clinton’s team had formally objected to Rice’s plan, or even if Rice would be able to install a separate transition team inside the State Department. But they noted that dueling transition teams could complicate the handover by blurring lines of authority.
Ms. Rice, a former Clinton administration State Department official but later an Obama campaign foreign policy adviser in 2007, made some critical remarks about Clinton during the Democratic primary, and one can only imagine how Rice felt when Clinton was chosen for Secretary of State.
3 AM Phone Call Gaffe and Attacking Clinton on MSNBC
The shoe appears to be on the other foot now. Susan Rice made a name for herself among those who did not already know her during the 2008 campaign when she appeared on MSNBC’s Tucker.
When asked by host Tucker Carlson, now of Fox News and The Daily Caller, when Obama at the time had been in a situation when he had to handle a national or international crisis at some random moment, Rice answered “He hasn’t. And he hasn’t claimed that he’s been in a position where to have to answer the phone at 3 ‘o clock in the morning in a crisis situation.”
Rice went on saying,”That’s the difference between the two of them. Hillary Clinton hasn’t had to answer the phone at 3 ‘o clock in the morning and yet she attacked Barack Obama for not being ready. They’re both not ready to have that 3AM phone call.”
The Clinton camp among others seized on that particular response, and asked why Obama’s own foreign policy adviser would go on TV and say that he was not ready to handle a crisis. Democrats as well as Republicans considered it a gaffe. Rice did not stop there, though.
She continued, “The question is, and what Barack Obama raised is when that phone call is received for each of them for the first time, who is going to make the right judgement? Who is going to make the right decision? On the critical foreign policy issues of the day-whether it was the decision to go to war in Iraq or the decision to give Bush the benefit of the doubt and beat the drums of war with Iran, Hillary Clinton has made the same wrong judgement as John McCain and George W. Bush. Barack Obama has made a very different judgement.”
Rice then went after Clinton supporters for their response to Clinton’s experience, up to that point, in handling a crisis. “First of all, they’ve said nothing for close to 30 seconds,” Rice said. “And then she went to the Beijing Women’s Conference, which of course was a crisis,” she said sarcastically.
Rice added of Clinton, “She claimed she played an instrumental role in negotiating the Northern Ireland peace agreement. George Mitchell, who was the negotiator, said she was not directly involved. She claimed she went to Kosovo and opened the border with Macedonia and yet the border opened the day before she arrived on that trip through no direct involvement of her own.”
Rice Attacked Hillary Clinton on Her Foreign Policy Views Including the Iraq War
In January of 2008, Real News interviewed Ms. Rice about her thoughts on then Senator Clinton’s foreign policy views as opposed to Senator Obama’s:
2:00 - But I want to talk about the broader world view, because there’s a significant difference there too between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. Senator Obama is looking forward and he has a 21st century conception of the nature of security challenges we face. He recognizes that one of the consequences of globalization is that we live in a world where trans-national security threats can arise anywhere from any part of the globe and rapidly spread to any part of the globe, so whether we’re talking about terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, these effects are now communal in a sense, because can’t isolate them in any part of the globe.
Rice explained that Obama believes the security of the American people could only be achieved if the well being of people in other parts of the world were satisfied too.
“So he has talked in terms of recognizing that we have a common security-that the security of Americans is inextricably linked to the security and well being to the people in other parts of the world and we share a common humanity,” she said.
“The common humanity means that we’re all people of equal worth and if we act on the basis of understanding and embracing that common humanity, dealing with issues of conflict of insecurity of poverty of underdevelopment of disease in parts of the world that we’ve long ignored, we’re not doing that only out of a moral and humanitarian concern, as important as that may be, but also out of the recognition that by doing so, we’ll also enhance our own security,” Rice added. At that point, Rice began going after Hillary Clinton.
“That’s a very different insight than you typically hear from most of our politicians and it’s not a retrospective insight, which I think is the foundation where Senator Clinton’s coming from,” said Rice and then took a subtle shot at Clinton’s husband and Rice’s former boss, President Bill Clinton, saying, “She talks about restoring American power-getting back to where we were at the end of 2000.”
Rice criticized Clinton for being vague about pulling troops out of Iraq.
3:39 - “(Obama) has said no permanent bases (in Iraq). Senator Obama has been very clear about that. He’s talked about withdrawing all of our combat brigades at the pace of one to two per month, so that within 16 months, U.S. combat brigades are out. he would leave behind a very modest residual to protect our civilians and our embassy and to conduct targeted counter-terrorism operations. Senator Clinton has been very ambiguous about whether to maintain permanent bases,” Rice remarked
“She said that we would keep forces in Iraq with a mission of checking and countering Iran as well as going after other terrorist organizations beyond al-qaeda in the region. That’s a very expansive view of a residual mission. She hasn’t specified her timeline for withdrawal.”
Rice described that Clinton was vague on her Iraq views saying, “It was only in December when finally pressed, when she said, ‘Yes, she thought that one to two brigades a month is a pace that is reasonably. But we don’t know really what her plans (are),” she explained to Real News adding, “Senator Clinton has also not put forward a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy. She paints herself as a candidate who is best able to govern on day one and protect American interests, but on the critical issue of the day, we don’t know what she thinks or how she would approach it.”
President Obama will begin to reveal who he plans to nominate for different cabinet level positions, including secretary of state, in the coming weeks ahead.