TAMPA - In a move that is sure to ignite a firestorm of
speculation about who would be Secretary of State in a second Obama administration,
President Barack Obama has chosen
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to deliver a key national security themed speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
An Obama campaign official told The Cable Tuesday that Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee and a highly rumored candidate to replace Hillary Clinton in Foggy Bottom when
she steps down next year, will headline a special segment of the program on
Thursday, Sept. 6, focusing on national security. The Sept. 6 program will take
place at Bank of America stadium and will conclude with Obama's speech
accepting his party's nomination for a second term.
The move is a reflection of the Obama campaign's
growing confidence in the area of national security versus a candidate in Mitt Romney who is seen
as being light on national security and foreign policy experience and whose
campaign has deprioritized discussing national security in an effort to keep
the focus on Obama's economic record.
"President Obama's strong record on
national security and veterans issues is clear - from ending the war in Iraq
responsibly, to refocusing on al-Qaeda and decimating its leadership, to taking
care of our men and women in uniform when they return home. These issues will
play a significant role throughout the week of the Democratic Convention," the
Obama campaign official said.
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.
Rice is rumored to be the front runner, due in part to her longtime personal
relationship with Obama, which dates back to his time as a senator.
Donilon's chances are said to have
diminished since he
became the focus of accusations that the Obama White House has been leaking
classified national security information for political purposes. Those accusations
could make Donilon's Senate confirmation difficult.
Rice and Donilon are not speaking at
the convention, but that's not an indication of their stature or chances for
promotion. Sitting national security officials aren't permitted to engage
directly in election-related political activities.
The Kerry speech in Charlotte is
also a chance for the Obama campaign to push back against the groups of special
operations veterans that are mobilizing a campaign to attack Obama's national security
record by pointing to the leaks and accusing Obama of spiking the football
after the killing of Osama bin Laden.
When Kerry ran for president unsuccessfully
in 2004, his service in Vietnam, during which he was awarded three purple
hearts, was attacked by a series of well-funded groups such as Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth. Some
of those same veterans are the ones organizing the anti-Obama veterans
groups this year.
The Obama campaign official
described Kerry as "a decorated combat veteran, and a tribute to the men and
women of the United States Armed Forces."
Overall, the message Kerry will
deliver will be that Obama has made progress in correcting what Democrats see
as the foreign policy failures of the George
W. Bush administration and that Romney would return America to those
"The American people understand that
President Obama has been a strong commander-in-chief, and we're looking forward
to highlighting these important issues at the convention," the Obama campaign
official said. "Senator Kerry will speak to how the President has restored
America's leadership in the world, has taken the fight to our enemies, and has
a plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan just like he did from Iraq. He
will contrast the President's strong leadership in this area with Mitt Romney,
who has embraced the go-it-alone, reckless policies of the past that weakened
America's place in the world and made us less secure here at home."
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