Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, is a leading candidate to become President Barack Obama’s nominee as U.S. ambassador to Japan, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Kennedy, 55, would replace Ambassador John Roos, a former technology lawyer and Obama campaign donor, as the U.S. envoy in Tokyo, according to the people, who asked for anonymity because the decision hasn’t been made official. While the president has signed off on Kennedy’s nomination, her vetting for the post hasn’t been completed, said one of the people.
An early backer of Obama in his 2008 run for president and a co-chairman of his 2012 campaign, Kennedy is one of several Obama political supporters and donors being reviewed for ambassadorships to top U.S. allies.
The president is considering John Emerson, the president of Capital Guardian Trust Co. as U.S. ambassador to Germany, said the people. For the U.S. embassy in France, the leading candidate is Marc Lasry, the chief executive officer of Avenue Capital Group LLC, who helped unite the fundraising networks of Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment. Kennedy and Emerson did not respond to a request for comment. Lasry declined to comment.
As Obama replaces Cabinet members, he is also rounding out his diplomatic representatives and rewarding those who worked for his re-election.
After considering Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, as envoy to the U.K., Obama is leaning toward Matthew Barzun, finance chairman of Obama’s presidential campaign, for the job, officially known as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s.
While Obama’s second-term ambassadors will report to Secretary of State John Kerry, political appointees often have the ability to go directly to the president. Their status as a friend of supporter of the president can give them more leeway than envoys who achieved ambassadorial ranking by working their way up the foreign service.
Obama has drawn ambassadors from the political ranks at a higher rate than the historical average of 30 percent, according to the American Foreign Service Association. In his first term, Obama nominated 59 ambassadors, including 40 fundraising bundlers, who lacked experience in the diplomatic corps.
For Kennedy, becoming an ambassador would allow her to continue a family tradition of public service. Her father, the 35th U.S. president, was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. Her uncle Robert Kennedy, a U.S. senator, also was assassinated, while running for president in 1968. Another uncle, former Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, died in August 2009, after serving in the Senate for almost 47 years.
In 2009, when then-Senator Hillary Clinton left her New York senate seat, Caroline Kennedy called the then-governor, David Paterson, to express her interest in the job.
In January of 2008, when Obama was still battling Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Kennedy endorsed Obama with a New York Time opinion article, writing that “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them.”
“But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president,” she wrote.
At the Charlotte convention last year, she said that Obama’s first term record reflected “the ideals my father and my uncles fought for.”