Remarks
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
Washington, DC
February 2, 2009


Date: 02/02/2009 Description: Vice President Biden swears in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Joining Secretary Clinton is her husband, former President Bill Clinton, their daughter Chelsea Clinton, and Secretary Clinton's mother Dorothy Rodham. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Thank you. It is an overwhelming honor to be sworn in to assume this position on behalf of our country. I thank my dear friend, Vice President Biden, and I thank President Obama for investing the trust and confidence in me during a particularly challenging time in our nation’s history. I look out and see so many friends and colleagues. I particularly want to thank the Speaker and the Majority Leader, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid for being here and for providing the leadership that you both are doing in the Congress.

I also want to thank my colleagues in government and my former partners in the Congress. I am very grateful to all the members of the House who are here today, and particularly those with whom I served over eight wonderful years who represent New York. And I’m very grateful to all of you.

And to my friends in the Senate, I see the faces of people with whom I have shared so much, and I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you. But I have to single out the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee who, after all, presided over my confirmation, for which I am very grateful, Senator Kerry. (Laughter and Applause.) And I look forward to working with all of you, particularly the appropriators – (laughter) – who are here this afternoon. We have a lot of work to do and it is such important work that lies ahead. I also want to thank two wonderful friends of mine, governors, Governor Corzine from New Jersey, and Governor O’Malley from Maryland who are here. (Applause.)

And I am particularly honored to have four of my predecessors with us today. I have sought their advice and their counsel and I have to publicly thank each and every one of them. With us today, Secretary Kissinger and Secretary Baker and Secretary Eagleburger and, of course, my dear friend and fellow Wellesley alum Secretary Albright. (Applause.) And I also want to thank Secretary Rice and Secretary Powell and Secretary Shultz, with whom I had a wonderful visit just last week when he came to the seventh floor, and Secretary Haig – all of the former secretaries of state who have been so generous with their time. And I think I can predict I will be asking for advice as we move forward.

Because this ceremony takes place at a real hinge of history time, there is so much that lies ahead in terms of challenges, but also opportunities. When I came into this building for the first time a week or so ago now, I told the assembled State Department employees, and then repeated it again at USAID, that we are all on the same team, and it is America’s team. And we have, in the leadership of President Obama, someone who wants us to reach out to the world, to do so without illusions, understanding that the difficulties we face will not be wished away, but meeting them forthrightly and smartly, and that we want to seize the opportunities that exist as well.

I talked in my confirmation hearings about smart power. Well, smart power relies on smart people, and we have an abundance of them in this building and at USAID. But I’ve also told my teammates in the State family that we’re going to have to be smarter about how we do what we must for our country. There are many ways that we can improve on what we do on a daily basis. And I want to work with my friends in Congress on behalf of our Administration to really look for those efficiencies and those changes that will make what we do more effective, more cost-effective, so that we can be out there around the world delivering America’s message, certainly doing all we must to protect and defend our security, but also advancing our interests and furthering our values.

So for me, this has been an amazing personal journey. As Joe laughingly referenced, neither one of us thought that we would be standing here together, doing what we are now doing together. Life has a funny way of unfolding and politics is even stranger. So we are joined in this incredible mission on behalf of our President and our country. And it’s one where it’s not only those of us holding positions, whether elected or appointed, must perform to the very best of our ability. We’re asking everyone in our country to think about how each of you can make a contribution so that we ensure that America’s future is even brighter than our storied past.

I’m excited by seeing so many familiar faces. There are friends in this audience who have known me my entire life. And there is the next generation, you know, my niece and my two nephews who are here. I get up every morning thinking about what I must do to make this world of ours safer and more prosperous and to make our country all that it can be. As difficult as the times are, I am an optimist. I believe that we can do what we set our minds to do. And so it is the power of our ideals and the intelligence and dedication of our people.

I could not be standing here before you today without all of you, but in particular, the three people who stand with me on this stage. It’s literally true I wouldn’t be here without my mother. (Laughter.) And so I – (applause) – I’m especially delighted that she can be with me. And to my daughter, who I am just bursting with maternal pride over, but who I look to also for advice and, frankly, for some cultural cues that I might otherwise miss. (Laughter.)

And finally, to my husband, who understands so well the awesome responsibilities resting on the shoulders of President Obama and Vice President Biden and all of us who serve with them. I am so grateful to him for a lifetime of all kinds of experiences – (laughter) – which have given me a – (applause) – which have given me an extraordinary richness that I am absolutely beholden to and grateful for.

So now, let me thank Gladys and her crackerjack protocol operation that put this together. We had to schedule it around two schedules that were hard to mesh: Vice President Biden and Chelsea Clinton. (Laughter.) When we finally got a time when both of them could be in the same place, we rushed to fill it. (Laughter.) So if you’re wondering why you didn’t get an invitation until Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, it’s because we just had to make sure that we had the main people here.

But I do want to greet all of you individually, and obviously, my family wants to say hello as well. So we’re hard at work already, and we’re working hard with a great team of people here in this building and at USAID. And we’re looking forward to fulfilling the excitement and the promise that the Obama Administration represents here at home and around the world.

Thank you all very, very much.

(Applause.)



PRN: 2009/091

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