President-elect Barack Obama planned to nominate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state on Monday, transforming a once-bitter political rivalry into a high-level strategic and diplomatic partnership.
Obama will name the New York senator to his national security team at a news conference in Chicago, Democratic officials said Saturday. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly for the transition team.
To clear the way for his wife to take the job, former President Bill Clinton agreed to disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997. He'll also refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference, and will cease holding CGI meetings overseas.
Bill Clinton's business deals and global charitable endeavors were expected to create problems for the former first lady's nomination. But in negotiations with the Obama transition team, the former president agreed to several measures designed to bring transparency to his post-presidential work.
The former president had long refused to disclose the identities of contributors to his foundation, saying many gave money on condition that they not be identified. He's now agreed to do so, and has volunteered to step away from day-to-day management of the foundation while his wife serves as secretary of state.
Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton was an extraordinary gesture of goodwill after a year in which the two rivals competed for the Democratic nomination in a long, bitter primary battle.
The two clashed repeatedly on foreign affairs during the 50-state contest, with Obama criticizing Clinton for her vote to authorize the Iraq war and Clinton saying that Obama lacked the experience to be president. She also chided him for saying he would meet with leaders of rogue nations like Iran and Cuba without preconditions.
The bitterness began melting away in June after Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama. She went on to campaign for him in his general election contest against Republican Sen. John McCain.
Advisers said Obama had for several months envisioned Clinton as his top diplomat, and he invited her to Chicago to discuss the job just a week after the Nov. 4 election. The two met privately Nov. 13 in Obama's downtown transition office.
Clinton was said to be interested and then to waver, concerned about relinquishing her Senate seat and the political independence it conferred. Those concerns were largely ameliorated after Obama assured her she would be able to choose a staff and have direct access to him, advisers said.
Remaining in the Senate also may not have been an attractive choice for Clinton. Despite her political celebrity, she is a relatively junior senator without prospects for a leadership position or committee chairmanship anytime soon.
Some Democrats and government insiders have questioned whether Clinton is too independent and politically ambitious to serve Obama as secretary of state. But a senior Obama adviser has said the president-elect had been enthusiastic about naming Clinton to the position from the start, believing she would bring instant stature and credibility to U.S. diplomatic relations and the advantages to her serving far outweigh potential downsides.
Clinton was the nation's first lady from 1993 to 2001. The same year George W. Bush defeated Al Gore to succeed her husband in the White House, Clinton ran for the Senate as a New York Democrat. She won re-election in 2006 and was widely regarded as the favorite for her party's nomination for president in 2008.
In the Senate, Clinton served on the Armed Services Committee, the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.