Sizing up Kerry as secretary of state
December 15th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Sizing up Kerry as secretary of state

From CNN’s Elise Labott and Jill Dougherty

Sen. John Kerry, who sources say has been tapped by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, will come to the post with a full plate of foreign policy crises, from the civil war in Syria, to the nuclear antics of North Korea, to a looming showdown with Iran over its nuclear program.

Anybody who follows Clinton would have some pretty big shoes to fill. Clinton was not just the most popular member of the president’s Cabinet for the past four years, she had celebrity status and respect almost everywhere she went around the world.

But as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for almost 30 years, the past four as chairman, Kerry himself is a highly respected figure on the world stage. While Obama is not close to a lot of world leaders, Kerry has deep relationships with many heads of state that he can draw on as the nation’s top diplomat. Sources close to Kerry note that the increasing partisanship on Capitol Hill has disillusioned Kerry and he is ready to leave the Senate.

He is no stranger to diplomacy and has often traveled overseas on behalf of the Obama administration as a diplomatic troubleshooter and to mend frayed relationships. Kerry persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to an election runoff in 2009 and has traveled Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

“There are very few people with greater experience over a longer period of time,” notes Nicholas Burns, a former career ambassador who has served every secretary of state since Warren Christopher, and was most recently undersecretary for political affairs under Condoleezza Rice.“He would be a very, very impressive choice."

“You really need someone who is a renaissance person with a tremendous range of skill, both political and substantive, with a deep reservoir of knowledge” Burns said in an interview. “You need someone who can drill several layers deep on foreign policy issues.” FULL POST