There’s a lot of buzz in DC about the fact that the Obama Transition Team is, according to one knowledgeable source, "very serious" about Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., being under consideration for secretary of state.
ABC News can confirm that President-elect Barack Obama met with Clinton Thursday afternoon at Obama’s downtown office in Chicago.
The AP first broke the news and reported that the motorcade of Clinton, who receives Secret Service protection as a former first lady, was seen leaving the office complex shortly before Obama left for the day.
George Stephanopoulos reported Clinton’s name being in the mix last week on "Good Morning America," but the buzz grew louder after Clinton was spotted boarding a flight to Chicago.
Her spokesman Philippe Reines would not discuss Clinton’s schedule, and of course, the Obama Transition Team would not comment.
The thinking about a Secretary of State Clinton is simple, I’m told: she’s smart, she’s strong, she’s experienced, she’s a team player, she is usually pretty diplomatic, and she also brings some gender diversity to an Obama Team concerned about such matters.
She brings instant stature to the job, one Democrat told me. Many world leaders have known her for almost two decades.
"Clinton is the gold standard around the world," said Chris Lehane, a former spokesman for Vice President Al Gore.
There are drawbacks, of course. Her husband Bill Clinton’s vast and varied international business dealings and relationships, which have put him at odds with her policy positions.
And of course, she and Obama famously and repeatedly clashed over international issues during their contentious primaries. She assailed as "naive" his willingness to speak to the leaders of hostile regimes without preconditions, and she assailed as reckless his public discussions about his willingness to attack high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan with or without Pakistan government permission.
Obama "basically threatened to bomb Pakistan, which I don’t think was a particularly wise position to take," Clinton said at the Democratic debate in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 26.
Most ugly, probably was the Tuzla sniper fire incident. Clinton erroneously claimed about a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
That was later proven false, and Clinton acknowledged "misspeaking."
Countered the Obama campaign’s Tommy Vietor: "Senator Clinton said that a planned welcoming ceremony was cancelled because they needed to avoid sniper fire, but news footage shows that she was met by a small child who read her a poem. Contrary to the latest spin from the Clinton campaign, when you make a false claim that’s in your prepared remarks, it’s not misspeaking, it’s misleading, and it’s part of a troubling pattern of Senator Clinton inflating her foreign policy experience."
Ouch. Harsh words for one’s Secretary of State.
But no doubt that’s water under the bridge. In Boca Raton in May, Obama — asked by a vote if he would consider putting Clinton on the ticket — said, "I’m a practical-minded guy. And, you know, one of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln. And a while back there was a wonderful book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin called ‘Team of Rivals.’"
The book, Obama said, discussed how "Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was how can we get this country through this time of crisis. And I think that has to be the approach that one takes, whether it’s vice president or Cabinet, whoever."
Clinton spoke at a New York State Mass Transit Fall Convention today, but declined to comment on her meeting with Obama.
– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller