By PETER BAKER and HELENE COOPER
Published: November 21, 2008
WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat to become secretary of state in the Obama administration, making her the public face to the world for the man who dashed her own hopes for the presidency, confidants of Mrs. Clinton said Friday.
The accord between the two leading figures of the Democratic Party was the culmination of a weeklong drama that riveted the nation’s capital. President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton fought perhaps the most polarizing nomination battle in decades, but in recruiting her for his cabinet, Mr. Obama chose to turn a rival into a partner, and she concluded she could have a greater impact by saying yes than by remaining in the Senate.
Her selection is still to be formalized and will not be announced until after Thanksgiving. It would be yet another direction in the unlikely journey of a onetime political spouse in Arkansas who went on to build a political base of her own and become a symbol of achievement to many women.
The role, though a supporting one, would make her one of the most influential players on the international stage, and it would represent at least one more act for one of the nation’s most prominent public families, as former President Bill Clinton would also become an ad hoc member of the Obama team.
The sometimes awkward dance between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in the eight days since he invited her to Chicago for a meeting culminated in a telephone call on Thursday. Before the call, Mrs. Clinton was skeptical about the prospect of joining the cabinet, said her confidants, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the situation. But Mr. Obama addressed her concerns about access, personnel and other issues, leading her to conclude she should take the job, they said.
“She’s ready,” one of Mrs. Clinton’s confidants said. The first meeting in Chicago “was so general” that she needed to have a better sense of how she would fit into Mr. Obama’s administration, and the call helped her “just getting comfortable” with the idea of working together, the confidant said.
Mr. Obama’s advisers said that although no offer had been formally accepted, her nomination was “on track” and would probably be announced after the holiday. Mrs. Clinton’s Senate office broke a week of silence to acknowledge the talks but cautioned that they had not been made final. more