"It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I'm going to miss her"...
On the heels of Sen. John Kerry sailing through his Senate confirmation on Tuesday as the next Secretary of State, President Obama today welcomes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the White House for a private luncheon. It comes as the President bids Clinton farewell; her last day in office is Feb. 1. The 12:30 PM luncheon in the Oval Office Private Dining Room is closed to
press. Kerry will be sworn in later this week, with a welcoming ceremony planned at the State Department next Monday. (Above, the President and Clinton walk along the Colonnade of the White House)
"I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we've had," President Obama told 60 Minutes on Sunday in their first-ever joint interview. "It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I'm going to miss her. Wish she was sticking around."
"I want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she's played during the course of my administration and a lot of the successes we've had internationally have been because of her hard work," President Obama added about his former political rival, who challenged him for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
President Obama in December nominated Kerry, 69, a decorated Vietnam veteran and five-term Senator from Massachusetts to replace Clinton. After he was approved by his Senate colleagues on a vote of 94-3, President Obama praised the rapid confirmation, and predicted that Kerry, who has chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "will make an extraordinary Secretary of State." Kerry, who previously ran for President, will make his final speech in the Senate today.
"I am pleased that the Senate has confirmed John Kerry as our next Secretary of State with overwhelming bipartisan support," President Obama said. "From his decorated service in Vietnam to his decades in the Senate as a champion of American global leadership, John’s distinguished career has prepared him to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead."
"John has earned the respect of leaders around the world and the confidence of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and I am confident he will make an extraordinary Secretary of State. I look forward to his counsel and partnership in the years ahead as we ensure American leadership in the world and advance the interests and values that keep our nation strong."
The three Republican Senators who opposed Kerry's confirmation were Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of Texas. The vote came hours after the Foreign Relations Committee approved Kerry's nomination by voice vote with no objections.
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House, taken on Feb. 23, 2011, after the President made a statement on Libya