US & Canada

After Clinton: Will Hagel and Kerry join Team Obama?

President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with members of his cabinet at the White House in Washington 28 November 2012
Image caption Seat at the table: who will join Barack Obama's second-term cabinet?

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce members of his second term cabinet in the coming days, with three of the biggest jobs in government up for grabs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has long said she would step down after Mr Obama's first term.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner are expected to leave their current positions sometime in early 2013.

Who are the runners and riders for the top jobs?

Chuck Hagel

In the running for: Secretary of Defense

Experience: The Republican from Nebraska served two terms in the US Senate.

Mr Hagel, 66, fought in Vietnam and was given two Purple Heart awards for being wounded in action. He worked as a broadcaster in Omaha, Nebraska and later was an investment banker and chief executive officer of the G7 organisation in Washington.

In the Senate, he rose to chairman of a subcommittee of the foreign relations committee, and was chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

After leaving the Senate in January 2009, Mr Hagel became chairman of the Atlantic Council, a prominent Washington think-tank on trans-Atlantic co-operation and international security issues.

Why Obama would want him: Mr Hagel is a Republican, giving Mr Obama's administration a bipartisan veneer. The two men have travelled together. Like Mr Obama, Mr Hagel opposed the war in Iraq and was a frequent critic of George W Bush's foreign policy.

"He's known for throwing elbows at members of his own party and at conservative media figures," Politico reported.

John Kerry

In the running for: Secretary of State

Experience: The Massachusetts Democrat is a veteran senator who is currently chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. In 2004, he was the Democratic presidential nominee.

Mr Kerry served as a naval officer in Vietnam, where he commanded a small riverboat on dangerous patrols.

After a career as a lawyer and two years as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, he was first elected to the Senate in 1984.

Why Obama would want him: Mr Kerry is a senior foreign policy hand within the Democratic party. He is highly respected among his colleagues in the US Senate, and Republicans have assured him a smooth confirmation.

One major potential drawback: If Mr Obama nominates Mr Kerry, that opens his Senate seat in Massachusetts. Former Republican Senator Scott Brown, who was defeated for re-election in November, is considered a strong contender to win Mr Kerry's seat in a special election.

Tom Donilon

In the running for: Secretary of State

Experience: Mr Donilon, Mr Obama's security adviser, has long experience in Democratic politics, working early in his career in President Jimmy Carter's White House. Under President Bill Clinton, Mr Donilon was chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

Later, he became wealthy as an executive at Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored mortgage company. He joined the Obama administration as deputy national security adviser to Gen James Jones.

Why Obama might want him: Mr Obama trusts him: he is said to have the president's ear on almost all foreign policy and security matters. Vice-President Joe Biden has called him "the most important person in the mix" in any debate.

Jacob 'Jack' Lew

In the running for: Secretary of the Treasury

Experience: As Mr Obama's chief of staff, Mr Lew is a powerful and trusted confidante to the president and the gatekeeper to the Oval Office.

Before taking that post, Mr Lew was director of the White House office of management and budget, a position he also held under President Bill Clinton. During the Bush years, Mr Lew held a top administrative post at New York University and held a high-level position at Citigroup.

During Mr Obama's first two years in Office, Mr Lew was a deputy secretary of state to Hillary Clinton.

Why Obama would want him: Mr Lew is known as a low-key "numbers guy" with a long background in Democratic politics. The New York Times called him "the most unassuming power broker in Washington".

Michele Flournoy

In the running for: Secretary of Defense

Experience: Until January 2012 she was former under-secretary of defence for policy, the highest-ranked woman in the Pentagon, briefing Secretary Leon Panetta on military operations and the strategic shift to Asia.

She is also co-founder of a defence think-tank, Center for a New American Security, and was a research professor at the National Defense University. During the campaign Ms Flournoy acted as a surrogate for the Obama team on foreign policy.

Why Obama would want her: Ms Flournoy's CV is impressive and her brief at the defence department covered much of what will become upcoming challenges at the Pentagon.

Republicans have also signalled that Ms Flournoy has an easier path to confirmation than Mr Hagel, because of the latter's views on Israel.

"If the president wants a messy fight, send us Hagel; if he wants smooth sailing, send us Flournoy," one Senate Republican aide told Buzzfeed.

She would also have the distinction of being the first female defence secretary.

Kenneth Chenault

In running for: Secretary of Treasury

Experience: Mr Chenault, has run American Express as CEO since 2001, and guided the company through a rough patch. He is a long term Obama supporter and a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Why Obama would want him: Mr Obama has had a rocky-relationship with the business community, and bringing in a friendly face among top-level executives could repair those connections.

Austen Goolsbee, the former chairman of Mr Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, told Bloomberg News that the president saw Mr Chenault as an "important outside voice from the business world".

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