“John Kerry is very seasoned at how personnel decisions get made by chief executives,” said Michael Meehan, a former Kerry aide. “He wouldn’t be out there advising anybody on how to make this decision.”
While Rice has several high-level advocates in the White House, particularly among advisers who have been with Obama since his 2008 campaign, Kerry has his fans within the administration, as well. He backed Obama early in his 2008 presidential run and was under consideration to be his first secretary of state. More recently, Kerry spent months helping Obama with his campaign debate preparations, playing the role of Republican nominee Mitt Romney in practice sessions.
If Obama passes over Kerry for the State Department post, there has been speculation the president could try to find another role for him in the administration, possibly as defense secretary, though Kerry aides say he’s not interested.
Perhaps Kerry’s greatest advantage for the job is the likelihood that he would be easily confirmed by his Senate colleagues.
“John Kerry came within a whisker of being president of the United States; I think that works in his favor,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Tuesday on Fox News. “But I’d love to hear him make his case. I don’t have anything in his background like this tragedy in Benghazi that would make me really want to carefully examine the whole situation.”
Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, echoed McCain’s comments Wednesday after meeting privately with Rice, the current U.N. ambassador.
Rice has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill trying to address criticism from Republicans who say she misled the public for political reasons about what sparked the September attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans. Rice, relying on talking points written by intelligence officials, said on Sunday talk shows days after the attacks that they appeared to be inspired by protests elsewhere in the Middle East over an anti-Muslim video.