Kerry: 'I have huge heels to fill'
Secretary of State John Kerry holds up his first diplomatic passport he received as an 11-year-old boy while speaking to employees on his first day at the State Department Monday.
February 4th, 2013
06:15 PM ET

Kerry: 'I have huge heels to fill'

By Elise Labott

Secretary of State John Kerry says that he has "big heels to fill" as Hillary Clinton's successor and promised to keep U.S. diplomats abroad safe.

Kerry was greeted by cheering employees at the State Department as he arrived for his first day of work on Monday.

As the first man in the post in eight years, Kerry referred to Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, his two most recent predecessors, asking: "Can a man actually run the State Department?"

"I don't know," he joked. "As the saying goes, I have big heels to fill."

Nothing the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, Kerry said the protection of American diplomats would be one of his top priorities.

"I guarantee you that beginning this morning when I report for duty upstairs, everything I do will be focused on the security and safety of our people," he said.

He pledged not to "let their patriotism and their bravery be obscured by politics."

Kerry told agency employees that he and President Barack Obama needed their help to make America safer and the world more prosperous and peaceful.

The son of a diplomat and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 28 years said that while the Senate may be in his blood, Foreign Service and diplomacy are in his genes.

He spoke of his time as a child in Germany, where his family lived while his father was posted on assignment.

Kerry pulled out his first diplomatic passport, issued when he was 11 in 1954, recounting how he used it a year later to ride his bicycle across the divided capital of Berlin and into the Soviet-controlled eastern part of the city.

"If the tabloids today knew I had done that, I can see the headlines that say, 'Kerry's Early Communist Connections!"' he joked.

He said his parents were mad at him, telling him he could have caused a diplomatic incident for crossing the Iron Curtain.

Kerry described the experience as his first lesson in democracy.

There were very few people," he told the crowd. "There was no joy in those streets. And when I came back, I felt this remarkable sense of relief and a great lesson about the virtue of freedom and the virtue of the principles and ideals that we live by and that drive us."

Kerry spoke of his family's connection with the State Department on other ways too.

“Exhilarating to walk into @StateDept today and get to work with remarkable team…Dad on mind! –JK,” he wrote in tweet on Monday.

Kerry was sworn into office in a private ceremony last Friday before a more formal swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday at the State Department.

He is expected to spend the remainder of the week holding meetings and reaching out to world leaders.

On Monday he spoke with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany. And over the weekend he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Canada and Mexico.

He also crashed a concert by the Afghan National Institute of Music on Monday. When told the group of musicians from Kabul was in the building, he went down to meet them, take photos and listen to their performance.

Calling them "ambassadors of peace," Kerry related to them as a fellow musician. As a young senator, Kerry played guitar in a rock band called the "Electras."

"I still play guitar," he told them. "When I go home, I love to play guitar."

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. massoud

    Kerry is into that kinda thing wow go figure .

    February 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  2. helenecha

    You have big heels to fill, uh? Hey, do you appreciate too big to fail, Mr. Kerry? Do you know what was President Obama failed to appreciate, Mr. Kerry?

    February 6, 2013 at 12:55 am | Reply
  3. helenecha

    You have big heels to fill, uh? Hey, do you appreciate too big to fail, Mr. Kerry?

    February 6, 2013 at 12:25 am | Reply
  4. craig

    He must have Pelosi's plastic surgeon. I saw him on TV last night and he has so much Botox in his face that he can hardly talk! Bizarre...

    February 5, 2013 at 11:41 am | Reply
  5. palintwit

    So is Kerry the new top clown in Washington, or is it still Barry?

    February 5, 2013 at 11:37 am | Reply
  6. joe

    I think he was trying to say Clinton and Rice have clown feet.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:59 am | Reply
  7. John

    He could have also said I have big boobs to fill because the last two people to have the job were a real couple of boobs.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:45 am | Reply
  8. liberal disease


    February 5, 2013 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • mike

      I'm convinced people like you are secret liberals who are just trying to make right wingers look stupid. For your sake, I hope that's the case.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:21 am | Reply
      • Cole-Boston (Baaastin)

        Hey Mike
        I think they're doing pretty good on their own!

        February 5, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  9. Jack33

    That's great of John Kerry to be so humble & polite, but I believe him to easily be the equal – and likely superior – to Clinton at this job, because he's been doing similar work for far longer than she.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:50 am | Reply
    • mike

      Yeah. Hillary knows how to play politics, but Kerry seems much more qualified for this role. He's also a lot less polarizing.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
  10. julie

    goodness people get a grip....the man made a funny, that's all and you nincompoops take it to another for the cross dressisng, it takes one to recognize one....

    February 5, 2013 at 8:26 am | Reply
  11. John

    By "heels" I think he was referring to the fact that the last two people to have the job were a couple of heels.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • ZigZag

      One things for sure, if he is ready to wear the "heels' he already has the bra and panties on. This administration just keeps getting better and better. They wont stop until they have no ones respect.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply
    • Diane

      These women were not "heels." They were hard-working, courageous, and extremely bright. Get a grip.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:16 am | Reply
      • OhPlease

        They were not heels and they may have been bright but they sure screwed up alot. Those screwups had nothing to do with them being women and everything to do with them making mistakes. Kerry will be no better and time will prove that. Kerry will do more flip flops in this appointment than the Olympic Gymnastics team could manage.

        February 5, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  12. PeterD

    Men don't wear heels.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • Cole-Boston (Baaastin)


      February 5, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • dack maddy

      ummm.....J. Edgar Hoover?

      February 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  13. are122

    Kerry: 'I have huge heels to fill' <~~Prior to doing that he might want to stop at a gas station and check the air pressure in his head.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:44 am | Reply
  14. Jerry

    Is he (Kerry) a closet pervert?! Have fun with your high heels, "Bending Forward" and with Clueless Obama rewriting your job description to HIS benefit.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:36 am | Reply
  15. Caat

    The "huge heels" were only due to the size of the Hillary's calves. He can probably were traditional footwear.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:54 am | Reply
  16. SolarMoon

    What an absurd comment.

    February 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Reply
  17. queenbee9

    It's been 12 years since a man held the office not 8, right?

    February 4, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
    • queenbee9

      I meant 12 years since a white male had held the office.

      February 5, 2013 at 12:02 am | Reply
    • queenbee9

      Lord, I hope that "crossing into Communist Germany is not another grandiose lie like the one Hilary told about being under sniper fire in Bosnia.

      February 5, 2013 at 12:05 am | Reply
  18. Hawke

    Kerry apparently is a male chauvinist like so many men are. Isn't it cute that he said "heels" instead of "shoes" to fill. I just know the guy thinks he's really something coming up with that quip. Lousy start for someone who is supposed to represent the United States and be diplomatic. I suppose he has all the men really laughing now since the bigger the jerk the more he's admired.

    February 4, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Reply
    • ZigZag

      I am a guy and I DO NOT respect jerks like this. He has proven his lack of worth over and over and was appointed because he is a good pawn to the administration. Dont paint us all with such a broad (sorry) brush.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:16 am | Reply
    • Geoscba

      As a woman who can take a joke, I thought it was kind of cute.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
  19. pjoe

    Mr Kerry ... two words to consider in these days of financial hardship. Tele conference. Actually its one word ... just push them together. Try it, you'll like it.

    February 4, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Reply
    • mike

      I think international diplomacy is just a weee bit more important than saving a few bucks on airfare. Just a hunch.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
  20. K from AZ

    My, my, a cross-dresser (heels?) heading up state: sounds about right!

    February 4, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  21. George Patton

    Kelly, you were picked not for your smartness, but your quick flip-flopness.

    February 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • George Patton


      February 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
      • mike

        Hah. You flip flopped.

        February 5, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  22. veritas

    Don't even try to fill her shoes. It's impossibe.She's a legend. A Clinton. Great job Hillary.You made the world a beter and safer place. Diplomacy ably restored to America. Now get ready for 2016. We're going to need you.

    February 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • K from AZ

      Yep, great job! Egypt over to terrorists: ambassador murdered: Amahdirty-goat will shortly have a-bomb: Syria a mess. Yep, great job! And the AmeriKAN moronic voters keep asking for more!

      February 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Reply
      • ZigZag

        They see through rose colored glasses. The obvious is blatantly absent from their perspective and they only see what they are told. Thats why Kerry was such a good choice for this administration. He will do exactly as he is told otherwise his political life will be DoA.

        February 5, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  23. Jaws3119

    just don't lie and Kerry will top clinton.

    February 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Reply
    • mike

      She didn't lie about anything. What evidence do you have? Don't tell me what some blowhard said...point us to the evidence.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply

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