“Progressives should rethink their reflexive opposition to international trade agreements,” Murphy argues in one section. “Yes, a progressive president should fight for stricter labor and environmental standards in trade agreements [the Trans Pacific Partnership], but it would be foolish to simply cede economic hegemony in Asia to China by refusing to try to rebuild an Asian-US trade deal.
Murphy’s activities have caught the attention of Biden’s hands, but the senator’s aides play down the idea that he is auditioning for Foggy Bottom. They point out that he has been talking about foreign policy for years – he co-authored a 2015 Foreign Affairs essay titled “Principles for a Progressive Foreign Policy”.
“He is honored to serve the people of Connecticut in the United States Senate, and there is much to be done in his current work to reaffirm the role of Congress in foreign policy,” said Jamie Geller, a spokesperson for Murphy. “He will continue to work to ensure that the national security of the United States is informed and guided by progressive values at home and abroad.”
The hand of trust
If Biden wins, the coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation that will ensue will likely consume his first few months. Current and former US officials say this could cause him to choose a Secretary of State with previous State Department experience, as the person wouldn’t need a lot of on-the-job training at Foggy Bottom .
This makes Rice – an experienced foreign policy hand who has held jobs from the start of the NSC to senior African diplomat to United Nations ambassador and national security adviser – an attractive option for the secretary of State.
She and Biden are said to have a warm relationship, although they disagree on how to handle the uproar in places like Egypt and Libya when Biden was vice president. To gauge his esteem, Biden seriously considered Rice a potential candidate, but instead chose California Senator Kamala Harris. Rice, who is black, is also one of the few women and people of color to be mentioned as a potential U.S. chief diplomat.
Getting Rice confirmed as Secretary of State might be difficult. Republicans called her bad a long time ago, claiming that she misled the public about the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. Rice stressed that she was simply sharing talking points prepared by intelligence officials, but Republicans repeatedly rejected her defenses.
The political assaults are believed to be the reason her young daughter temporarily complained of hallucinations, Rice wrote in a memoir published last year. The attacks prompted Rice to withdraw from the race to become secretary of state in Obama’s second term, instead becoming a national security adviser.
More recently, Trump and his allies alleged that Rice was part of a larger plot to undermine the president. They claim that she acted inappropriately when she asked for the identities of certain Americans mentioned in intelligence reports who turned out to be Trump associates. Rice insists that she did nothing wrong and stumbled upon the names as part of her usual duties as a national security adviser; a Justice Department investigation into the alleged unmasking of Trump’s aides has silently ended in recent weeks without any charges or public reports.
Rice declined to comment for this story via a spokesperson. Although she’s active on Twitter, appears on TV as Biden’s surrogate, and writes columns for The New York Times, she doesn’t openly say she wants the role of chief diplomat – but she doesn’t hijack neither the idea.
Rice’s main rival could be Blinken, 58, a longtime assistant to Biden and a key member of his 2020 campaign team.
Blinken declined to comment for this article, but he was practically high for the job: he is a polite Harvard graduate whose father, Donald, also a Harvard graduate, was an investment banker who served as a United States ambassador in Hungary. The youngest Blinken attended high school in Paris, worked as a reporter and lawyer, and held positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. He also spent time at Capitol Hill, where he was Democratic Director of Personnel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chairman.
Blinken has been a key intermediary for Biden throughout the campaign; he regularly meets, for example, with a handful of progressive groups trying to shape Biden’s foreign policy.
During the Obama years, Blinken served as Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Secretary of State. But while Blinken is said to be fluent in State Department matters, foreign policy deans expect Biden to want him close to the White House, perhaps as a national security adviser.