Who will replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this month.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this month.
AP Photo/Hektor Pustina

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long vowed that she would only stay in the Obama administration for one term, leading many to wonder just who will replace her in 2013 now that President Obama has secured re-election.

Clinton has shined as the country’s top diplomat, and she has the sky-high approval ratings to prove it. Replacing her will be no easy feat. Whoever takes the post will inherit many sticky issues, including violence in Syria, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and an increasingly volatile Israel-Iran relationship.

Here’s a look at five possible replacements.

1.       Susan Rice

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations is one of the top candidates, sources told Bloomberg News on Thursday. The president and Rice “remain close” and Rice shares “many of his views on foreign policy.” Rice, however, came under fire for her bungled response to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. She initially said the siege came after a protest relating to an anti-Muslim video; later, the State Department told reporters there had been no protest.

2.       John Kerry

The Massachusetts senator is also under consideration for the top job. Kerry, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, worked closely with Obama throughout the campaign, and even played the role of Mitt Romney during debate practice. The Brookings Institution’s Thomas Wright tweeted Wednesday that Obama’s re-election is “very good news” for Kerry’s chances of becoming secretary of state. But there are other obstacles, including the chance that ousted Republican Sen. Scott Brown could vie for Kerry’s Senate seat if Kerry vacated it and triggered a special election.

3.       Thomas Donilon

The National Security Adviser is also reportedly a heavyweight contender. He’s only been on the job since 2010, but served as former Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s chief of staff during Bill Clinton’s presidency. He was very involved in big foreign policy issues, including the Bosnian peace agreement.

4.       Samantha Power

The National Security Council member’s name has also been thrown around for months. She’s known for being outspoken on genocide, and reportedly played a big role in Obama’s Libya intervention. But her critics say she’s far too liberal and pro-Palestinian.

5.       A Republican wildcard

There’s also the possibility that Obama could reach across the aisle for his Secretary of State pick. Names thrown around include moderate Republican Jon Huntsman, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, and even former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Who will replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department?