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TEAMMATES

Herb Boyd | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.

"I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department, and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda," said President-elect Barack Obama at the end of his nomination of Sen. Clinton to be his secretary of state. While Obama stood at the podium in Chicago in front of six new nominees to his national security team, Clinton was clearly the most prominent member, having challenged him through a grueling and rancorous presidential campaign.

For several weeks the rumors floated that she would be tapped and would accept, but there were a number of problems, particularly with her husband's connections that had to be weighed and set aside for the nomination to become official. A portion of former President Bill Clinton's controversial baggage included a need for him to publicly disclose the numerous donors to his foundation, the vetting of future speaking engagements, and his business activities with government lawyers. Apparently, all these concerns were satisfactorily dispatched, and Obama had the clearance he needed to proceed. Obama opened his remarks by acknowledging his friendship with Clinton. "I have known Hillary Clinton as a friend, a colleague, a source of counsel and a tough campaign opponent. She possesses an extraordinary intelligence and a remarkable work ethic. I am proud that she will be our next secretary of state.

"She is an American of tremendous stature, who will have my complete confidence, who knows many of the world's leaders, who will command respect in every capital, and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world," Obama continued while the television cameras focused on an impassive Clinton. "Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances. There is much to do--from preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to Iran and North Korea, to seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, to strengthening international institutions." The president-elect did not mention Iraq, which was a source of contention during the campaign, with Obama repeatedly stressing that he opposed the invasion, while Clinton voted to authorize it. But that, like so much of what they debated, is obviously in the past.

"I believe the best way to continue serving my country is to join President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, the leaders here and the dedicated public servants of the State Department on behalf of our nation at this defining moment," Clinton said toward the end of her remarks. "I am proud to join you on what will be a difficult and exciting adventure in this new century." Clinton was also proud of her tenure as junior senator of New York. "I also want to thank my fellow New Yorkers, who have for eight years given me the joy of a job I love, with the opportunity to work on issues I care about deeply, in a state that I cherish. And you've also helped prepare me well for this new role. After all, New Yorkers aren't afraid to speak their minds, and do so in every language."