Senator John F. Kerry returned to Boston today from Washington, but he refused to comment on the possibility he may be tapped for secretary of state.
“When the time is right, you’ll know what’s going on and so will I,” he told a Globe reporter as he got into his car outside the US Airways Shuttle terminal at Logan International Airport.
In a sensitive period between Susan Rice’s decision to bow out of contention and any formal announcement of a replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kerry refused to answer when asked if he had talked to the president about the job.
The Massachusetts Democrat also would not answer when asked if he is interested in being secretary of state.
“I don’t have any comments on it at all,” Kerry said. “I’m just doing my job.”
Clinton has already said she will not continue in her post for Obama’s second term. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is also expected to step down, too.
Rice, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations and a reported top-tier candidate for secretary of state, announced Thursday that she was dropping out of consideration for fear of creating a political fight. Republicans had challenged her forthrightness in explaining the cause of the Sept. 11 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Kerry has also been viewed as another top-tier candidate, as the son of a diplomat, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and an unofficial diplomatic emissary throughout the Obama administration.
Rice’s decision immediately shifted focus to Kerry’s prospects, as well as the ripple effect him taking the job would have on Massachusetts.
Were he to resign his Senate seat, Governor Deval Patrick would have to appoint a temporary replacement while a special election campaign is held in the ensuing 145 days to 160 days.
Senator Scott Brown, a Republican and Kerry’s junior colleague, has indicated he will likely run, after he was defeated for reelection in November by Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
A number of incumbent US House members, including Representatives Edward J. Markey and Michael Capuano, are also possible Democratic candidates.
In a written statement Thursday, Kerry paid tribute to Rice.
“I’ve defended her publicly and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again because I know her character and I know her commitment,” the senator said. “She’s an extraordinarily capable and dedicated public servant. Today’s announcement doesn’t change any of that. Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.