With Senator John Kerry's speech at the Democratic National Convention drawing closer by the minute and Hillary Clinton's retirement from government looming, reporters in Charlotte have once again fallen in love with one of Washington's worst-kept secrets: Kerry wants to be Secretary of State. There are a few convention stories on Kerry today (Politico, Huffington Post, even China Daily), and they all mention his Cabinet intentions. And Kerry's own column in Foreign Policy yesterday about national security, Osama bin Laden, and the Republican evasion of Obama's achievements certainly sounds like someone making good with Obama and flexing his fluency on diplomatic terms--a perfect precursor to his speech tomorrow night.
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The Hill's Julian Pecquet explains that the timing of Kerry's speech along with the topic--Kerry is speaking about National Security in primetime and is slated to go on right before President Obama--is really what's making the Kerry-Secretary speculation go around. On August 29, when it was first reported that Kerry would be speaking, Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin surmised that the speech might be an "audition." "Kerry has always denied he is lobbying for Clinton's job, but insiders say he is on a short list along with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon," wrote Rogin.
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Though he denies lobbying for the gig, rumors about his Secretary of State desires heated up in April (Hillary's retirement announcement came in January) with his increasingly visible role as a key Obama surrogate. Politico's Jessica Meyers wrote, "His [Kerry] desire for the Cabinet position is one of Washington’s badly kept secrets," back in June reporting about Kerry's "dry run" with the Law of the Sea treaty. And Kerry has also served "as an unofficial administration envoy to troublespots in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and Afghanistan," as the Boston Globe's Glen Johnson points out, and is currently the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee--both of which certainly speak louder than active lobbying. But there's also uncertainty about the latter which would make Kerry's desire for a promotion more immediate than the timing of Kerry's speech. "[W]hile Kerry isn’t up for reelection until 2014, if Republicans win control of the Senate in November, he would lose his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," writes Pecquet.