Hillary Clinton began the first phase of her official vetting session for the position of secretary of state Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill, where she made opening remarks and faced her peers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as they took a close look at her credentials—and her husband’s globe-trotting fundraising activities.
AP via Google News:
In remarks prepared for delivery at her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be secretary of state also promised to push for stronger U.S. partnerships around the globe.
“America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America,” she said. “I believe American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted.”
Borrowing a phrase meant to signal a move away from the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, Clinton said, “We must use what has been called `smart power,’ the full range of tools at our disposal. With `smart power,’ diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy.”
Clinton, with daughter Chelsea in attendance, appeared set to sail smoothly through her hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, despite concerns among some lawmakers that the global fundraising of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, could pose ethical conflicts for her as secretary of state.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the committee, said in opening the hearing that he welcomed Clinton’s nomination, calling her “extraordinarily capable and smart.”
In his opening remarks, Sen. Richard Lugar, the panel’s ranking Republican, praised Clinton, calling her “the epitome of a big leaguer” who is fully qualified for the job and whose presence at the State Department could open new opportunities for American diplomacy, including the possibility of improving the United States’ image in the world.
But Lugar also raised questions about the issue of Bill Clinton’s fundraising work and its relation to her wife’s new post. Lugar said that the only way for Clinton to avoid a potential conflict of interest due to her husband’s charity is to forswear any new foreign contributions. The Indiana senator said the situation poses a “unique complication” that requires “great care and transparency.”
Secretary of State-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton stands with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, right, and the panel’s ranking Republican, Richard Lugar, in Washington on Tuesday.