Senate Foreign Relations on Caroline Kennedy Nomination

President Obama's pick to be America's next ambassador to Japan starts the confirmation process.
15:24 | 09/19/13

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Transcript for Senate Foreign Relations on Caroline Kennedy Nomination
This is a special report from ABC news. Under attack and is in New York with -- ABC news digital special report Caroline Kennedy could soon be sworn in as the next US ambassador to Japan. But first. You see -- walking -- the committee she's gonna have to face the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the same committee. Her father then senator John F. Kennedy sat on more than fifty years ago. As we see her -- and she's flanked on either side by senators of her own. -- see Chuck Schumer and -- -- Kirsten Gillibrand. There front and center now she's about to get her opening statement we believe. Quite soon. But let's go to Rick Klein persons news political director for more -- we expect smooth sailing for Caroline Kennedy -- -- the rock. Are generally speaking yes indeed there's not much this controversial about an ambassadorship to Japan I don't we -- many people questioning her qualifications but this is really about. -- history and and historical sweep of the Kennedy family her grandfather was an ambassador for the quarter saint James. Her and her father to her -- -- United States senators and we've long look to this next generation of Kennedys particularly the JFK family. About what they be doing a public service this will be when it when and if she's confirmed the first time that she holds. An official public position there was talk about her potentially running for the senate where -- accepting a senate seat in New York but this is -- first foray into this she's been. Around the edges of national political life for her entire life quite literally. But -- becoming United States ambassador will be in another step and another piece of the Kennedy legacy. You know. There's no denying she's got a family history that seems to lead her down as happened as he said she's never held political office she doesn't have any special ties to Japan is this seen. Flores President Obama thanking her for her support early on against Hillary Clinton in the primaries. There's a piece of that and don't underestimate the thinking Japan -- well Japan has a history of liking. Kind of celebrity ambassadors people that they know we're big -- this is seen in Japan as a -- as a sign of enormous respect the fact that. The president would turn to an ally that is is as prestigious as Caroline Kennedy a member of the Kennedy family the only surviving child JFK. That's a big deal as well so it's a -- -- -- work with an ally. And if -- look more broadly at the weighted ambassadorships have been awarded not just under President Obama but under every president literally going back. You probably go back -- George Washington on this political -- is supporters contributors. Have been very much part of the mix there's another wrinkle around Caroline Kennedy. She was an early and aggressive supporter of President Obama. Even during the primary against Hillary Rodham Clinton -- there was a sense that. Naming her ambassador while Hillary Clinton the secretary of state. Was a non starter the fact that Hillary Clinton is now gone off the stage in in in the private sector opens the door for mrs. Kennedy. Interesting stuff what is her relationship like with the Kennedy advocate Clinton's excuse me these days. -- it's quite chilled as a result of that and and we know of those intense conversations that happen between Bill Clinton and her uncle Ted Kennedy who passed away a few years ago shortly after President Obama. Was inaugurated I don't think we know specifically about what -- what the relationship now between. Her in the clintons are we haven't heard much about that recently but it is tense going back you know the clintons remember who supported them -- who didn't. But clearly for president Obama's perspective this is a way to to thank someone is -- doing this job doing this service. Caroline Kennedy interest and a new challenge going abroad in this mission and and and -- as I say unlikely that she'll have serious opposition in the committee. Yeah I -- -- Obama hasn't had the best of luck with his nominee is is is she just too big -- name to. New troll. A character for her to be blocked by senate Republicans. I'd be surprised that someone doesn't make something of an issue out of it and some sharp questioning today you know that any senator can make some headlines like. Questioning Caroline Kennedy about her qualifications about Syria policy clearly the ambassador Japan doesn't have much to do with what's going on right now in Syria. But the question of the Obama -- diplomacy on the international stage is front and center right now so you can expect some questions around that we just have when her talk very much in general. About her views on diplomacy what she doing this role so I think a lot of people disinterested to tune in to -- which yes this -- You know it's interesting because although she's. Very much in known figures she's headed a lot of nonprofits -- certainly been in the public eye she seems to have shied away from public office. The point where she may have been and chosen. For the US senate. Back what. In the -- and Kristen Gillibrand ended up taking the this seat do you feel as if so why do we think at this point has she wanted to do this why she stepped forward now. The since of the Kennedy family is that she like a lot of the Kennedys of her generation have looked for opportunities to serve wherever those opportunities. Might be as you say she flirted with the idea of accepting that senate seat she. I gave a rather famous interviews in New York Times the -- she really didn't have a rationale for. For doing it had no appetite for the commute down to Washington and in the immediate and needs a campaign to keep that seat so our heart really wasn't in that. This is a lot different this is going to have -- high profile position in Japan. Taking over on a new challenge it's not like we -- -- you have a tense relationship with -- so it's not a particularly. Dicey post but it's an important posts and is important for diplomacy sakes I do think it's a question of a new challenge and opportunity to serve. And I think there's something about the term ambassador Kennedy that means something and that family. Given not her grandfather's role in that in that in in the in the FT -- Illustration -- law -- so many interesting facets to this move here let's listen -- has Caroline Kennedy's. Senator Schumer senator Gillibrand. As an honored to appear before you this morning as the president's nominee to service the United States ambassador to Japan. I appreciate the confidence of President Obama and secretary Kerry -- -- down. In nominating me for this important position and I'm grateful for the consideration of this distinguished committee. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to answer your questions and hear first hand. Your thoughts and concerns about our essential relationship with Japan. If confirmed I look forward to working with the committee and with other members of congress to advance the interests of the United States. Protect the safety of our citizens. And strengthen the bilateral relationship -- the benefit of both our countries. I would also like to thank my family for their support throughout this process. And their enthusiasm for this mission. My husband -- is here along with two of my three children my daughter Tatyana and my son Jack. And I'm so pleased MI on Vickie could be here this morning as well. She carries with her every day the spirit of my uncle Teddy his devotion to this institution. To his colleagues. And our country was an inspiration to all of us. I'm humbled to be following in the footsteps of some congress' most distinguished members. Senator Mansfield vice president Mondale. Speaker Foley -- senator baker. If confirmed I will try every day to live up to the standard they set. And representing United States and advancing our relationship with Japan. I'm also grateful to ambassador Tom Schieffer and especially to ambassador John there is and -- -- for their generous advice and wisdom. I would also like to acknowledge ambassadors aside from the embassy of Japan. Who is himself a distinguished diplomat and has been -- steadfast friend the United States. I can think of no greater honor than to represent my country abroad. I've spent my career working to make American history -- ideals accessible to the widest possible audience. And in particular to younger generations. As president of the Kennedy library am proud that my father became the first digital president -- remade his papers available on line around the world. As chair of Harvard's Institute of Politics. I've worked to train new generations of leaders to pursue careers in public service and expand international opportunities for students. In my books on the bill of rights and the right to privacy I sought to engage young audiences. In the debate over our fundamental rights and give them the tools and understanding to advance and defend our liberties. For the past ten years have been working with the New York City public schools on education reform efforts. In a school system where students speak more than 130. Languages at home. I work to increase individual literacy cultural awareness. College access. Arts education and international exchange programs. I saw the power of public private partnerships to leverage involvement and results. And if confirmed I look forward to building upon these experiences to strengthen ties between young people in Japan and the United States. And finally this appointment has a special significance. As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of my father's presidency. I'm conscious of my responsibility to uphold the ideals that he represented. A deep commitment to public service. And more just America in a more peaceful world. As a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific he had hoped to be the first sitting president to make -- a state visit to Japan. If confirmed as ambassador I'll be humbled to carry forward his legacy in a small -- And represent the powerful bonds that unite our two democratic societies. I can think of no country in which I would rather serve than Japan. I first visited in 1978. With my uncle Senator Kennedy and was deeply affected by our visit to -- she not. Our countries are bound by deep political economic cultural and strategic ties. And our partnership has a global reach. The United States and Japan share a commitment to freedom human rights and the rule of law. Japan is the world's third largest economy our fourth largest trading partner and the second largest source of foreign direct investment in United States. Japan is home to 50000 US troops to seventh fleet and 170000. American citizens. As United States rebounds this toward Asia and power -- with Japan remains the cornerstone. Of peace stability and prosperity in the region. As it has been for more than fifty years. If confirmed I will work closely with the leadership in the US military to further strengthen our bilateral security relationship. At the same time Japan is an indispensable partner. In promoting democracy and economic development in the region as well as in global humanitarian efforts in peacekeeping. These are areas I care deeply about. And if confirmed I will work just further strengthen this critical partnership at a vital moment in its history. This is indeed an important moment in the history of US Japan relations. Japan is enjoying a period of political stability and economic renewal and is eager to increase trade and investment with the United States. If confirmed I look forward to working with American business to expand and promote American exports trade. And support initiatives such as the trans Pacific partnership. In addition I will work to increase exchanges between American and Japanese students scholars and citizens. So that future generations -- understand our shared history and continue to bind our nations closer. Finally if confirmed I will meet my most fundamental responsibility. To promote and protect the welfare of all American citizens in Japan. This includes providing a safe and secure environments for US government employees and their families. I especially look forward to benefiting from the support of the talented foreign service professionals. Both American and locally engaged that our mission in Japan. I would like to thank this committee for your consideration of my nomination. If confirmed I look forward to working closely with you to advance our national and -- protect our citizens. And deepen our ties with Japan. Thank you. Thank you very much -- -- sort of round of questions let me start off. That was Caroline Kennedy giving her opening statement at her confirmation hearing she is nominated. To -- US ambassador Japan let's bring ABC news political director -- -- back in -- mentioned earlier this isn't just a big deal for our Caroline Kennedy her first. Political. Post it's a big deal for Japan. That's right an issue she mentioned the the litany -- former politicians and prominent politicians even former vice president Mondale. Folks who have served in that post that has been the tradition in Japan -- -- people who have high political profiles they see that as a sign of respect and I think Caroline Kennedy. Continuing in that tradition talking about her family history talking about her visit to Hiroshima talking about her uncles and their service and -- senate I think all of those things are. Very much in in evidence at that hearing today. Is there risk she's -- -- too much attention she's such a big name any misstep -- -- matter how tiny. Is likely going to make news. Yeah I think that's always a risk and -- someone high profile in a post like that but the Kennedys have. A lot of experience being in the in the limelight at home or abroad Caroline Kennedy hasn't -- many places and her entire life. Where people haven't known who she was so -- -- -- -- -- an inning in a nice residence in Tokyo it is it is one of the nicest buildings in that city. And I think she will be high profile -- in that city and high profile ambassador for President Obama has an in his administration. -- one would expect obviously she's gonna get training in terms of cultural norms and what. To do and what not to do in certain situations. It's -- very standard as. Either folks who come from the private sector that people who fight should generally are political supporters of the president -- -- particularly in a second term. You -- a lot of people who were sort of rewarded with jobs like this. And we should mention she's the first woman. That could potentially hold this post. That's right as ambassador to Japan. And I think that's that's part of the history making aspect of this no question. How does her relationship with the obamas as she considered a personal friend. She's very close to President Obama in their early contacts she wrote it she wrote an op Ed in the New York Times back in the 2007. 2008 cycle where she said that this is the first president in our lifetime that's reminded her of her own father and I think. There was that that piece of the history that that bound them early on. They've been in contact the route and she's that -- high profile supporter of his of his administration from the beginning. And I think and I think that continues with -- A timeline going forward we -- obviously this hearing is going to continue do we know. When the vote is expected to be held -- and when this would be made official. Pretty soon if you fit the hearing today will be followed by a vote and it is serious an affirmative vote at a committee of the put on the senate schedule so. We don't have a firm date yet but there's not any reason to believe that this going to be and then toward the line. All right ABC's Rick -- Washington thank you so much for joining us. Thank you -- can keep watching a live stream of the here and of course get -- complete recap right here on ABC news that count for now anti Hernandez in New York this ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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