Hillary Clinton has emerged as a leading candidate to be the next Secretary of State after it was confirmed yesterday that she had held a secret meeting with Barack Obama in Chicago this week.
Two officials in the president-elect’s transition team, apparently operating in concert, have disclosed that Mr Obama’s opponent in this year’s fiercely-contested Democratic primary is under serious consideration for America’s top diplomatic post.
A close confidant of Mrs Clinton told The Times: “This was a very deliberate leak, perhaps to test the waters and see what the reaction is. But if they don’t give it to her now they will have humiliated her again â€“ and that would be a gigantic political mistake.”
Speculation about her role increased after she was seen boarding a flight on Thursday to Chicago, Mr Obama’s home city. Although Mrs Clinton’s spokesman would only say she was travelling on “personal business”, sources yesterday acknowledged they had held behind-closed-doors talks.
Mr Obama has spoken about his desire to reach out to political opponents, including Republicans, as he forms his administration. He has cited Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivalsâ€ť as a key text for him. He says the biography of Abraham Lincoln showed how he brought in former enemies and “was confident enough to be willing to have these dissenting voices”.
Yesterday, the President-elect announced he would hold talks on Monday in Chicago with John McCain, the Republican nominee in last week’s election who has promised to help Mr Obama find bi-partisan solutions to the challenges facing America.
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Previously John Kerry had been strongly linked to the post of Secretary of State, having been among those who gave early backing to Mr Obama in the primary campaign. But well-placed sources have indicated that the Democratic nominee in 2004 is no longer favourite for the job.