Bidding for a Place in Obama's Cabinet

They both ran for the White House, though one got closer—much closer—than the other. They both sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with their junior colleague Barack Obama. And if the Illinois senator is elected president in November, they both apparently would like to be his secretary of State. A source close to Massachusetts' John Kerry, who asked for anonymity when discussing the senator's political aspirations, says the Foreign Relations Committee's third-ranking Democrat (and 2004 presidential runner-up) is keen to be the nation's top diplomat. That also could well be the case for Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, the committee's second-ranking Democrat (and 2008 presidential also-ran). The committee's chairman, Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, is also frequently mentioned by Democratic insiders as a potential secretary of State—though, like Dodd, he might have his eyes on a bigger prize: the vice presidency. (Kerry does not appear to harbor veep aspirations.)

Kerry is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, but because his Senate experience is in foreign relations rather than military affairs, he's more intrigued by the State Department than the Pentagon, according to the source. (He also speaks fluent French.) Dodd, meanwhile, has recently been showcasing his expertise on Latin America: at an April conference at the U.S. Naval Academy, he laid out a blueprint for a "new relationship" between the United States and the region. Dodd's plan would include efforts to "dramatically improve" relations with Raúl Castro's Cuba by lifting a U.S. trade embargo and travel ban. While Dodd's office had no comment on his ambitions, an aide did confirm that Dodd is a fluent Spanish speaker and noted that he chairs a subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs. Biden speaks no foreign languages but is regarded as one of the Democrats' foremost foreign-policy wise men. He has said he wouldn't turn down an offer to run as Obama's VP, and while his spokeswoman had no comment, another Biden adviser, who asked for anonymity, says that he likewise would not decline an offer to become secretary of State.

Of the three senators, Kerry endorsed Obama first. Biden and Dodd both abandoned their presidential bids after poor showings in the Iowa caucuses, but only Dodd has endorsed Obama. During the primaries, Biden said he would support the eventual nominee but remained neutral in the race between Obama and Hillary Clinton. How diplomatic.