Sen. Robert Menendez,D-N.J.,the man likely to take over chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee,presided over the hearing. Kerry has been a member of the committee since 1989 and its chair for the last four. He said he wants bipartisanship for the best interests of the country.
“My plea is that we can summon across party lines,without partisan diversions,an economic patriotism which recognizes that American strength and prospects abroad,depend on American strength and results at home. It is hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries they must get their economic issues resolved if we don’t resolve our own,” he said.
Sen. Christopher Coons,D-Del.,chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs,asked about China’s influence on Africa’s growing economy.
Kerry said with a little bit of resources,the U.S. can can influence Africa’s economy again.
“We have to be prepared and organize ourselves very well. There is a lot of opportunity in Africa,” he said.
He recognized the role played by women in trying to bring peace to war-torn countries.
“In Africa,Guatemala and other parts of the world,women have stepped up as peacemakers in the peace process in these instances with respect to the security of those communities,” he said.
The secretary of state nominee said the U.S. relationship with Russia has slipped a bit in the last couple of years,exemplified by Russia’s recent decision to stop Americans from adopting Russian children.
“We have some ground to make up. I would like to see if we can find some ways to cooperate,” he said.
Kerry said the U.S. has to turn over responsibility to the Afghan people to run their country,but must also maintain a capacity to contain terrorism and counterterrorism beyond 2014 when American troops are expected to withdraw.
Clinton paid a glowing tribute to Kerry when she introduced him to the committee and said she is confident he will be able to do the job,considering relationships he has built with leaders here and abroad.
Sen. John McCain,R-Ariz.,also praised Kerry for his contributions to U.S. relations with Vietnam. Both men are Vietnam veterans. Kerry won several medals,then turned against the war after he returned home. McCain was a prisoner of war for more than five years.
As Kerry finished his remarks,a woman protester shouted from the back of the room,“I am tired of my friends in the Middle East dying.”
Police removed her from the room.
Kerry said he respected the opinion of the woman and her right to voice it. The committee is expected to vote to confirm Kerry as early as next week.
Reach reporter Eddie Ameh at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.