The benefits of being Obama's secretary of State

In an email to Obama's famed list of donors, Vice President-elect Joe Biden asks for contributions to pay down Hillary Clinton's campaign debt.

Published December 5, 2008 5:51PM (EST)

Evidently, a nomination to a spot in Barack Obama's cabinet comes with some pretty good fringe benefits. In the same week Obama formally named Hillary Clinton as his nominee to be secretary of State, now he -- or more specifically, Vice President-elect Joe Biden -- has asked his campaign's lengthy list of donors to help pay down their former rival's remaining campaign debt.

In a letter e-mailed to Obama's more than three million donors, Biden writes: 

We want to be ready to go, and that's why I'm asking you to help us honor an outstanding commitment we made during the election.

Our campaign pledged to help Senator Hillary Clinton -- one of the vital members of our team and our future Secretary of State -- retire her campaign debt. That's the money her campaign owes to the vendors across the country that make our political process possible.

Barack and I had the deepest respect for Hillary as an opponent on the campaign trail. Her undeniable intellect, talent, and passion strengthened Barack as a candidate and tested our movement for change.

We welcome Hillary as a partner in our administration, and I hope you will show your support by helping Barack fulfill our campaign promise....

According to the AP, at the beginning of November, Clinton's lingering campaign debt hovered at $7.5 million. $5.3 million of that was owed to Mark Penn's firm. Biden's appeal comes just after Bill Clinton sent an e-mail asking supporters to give his wife "a message of congratulations," as well as to make a donation. Clinton will also appear at a fundraiser in New York on December 15th. And her campaign is putting out a children's book about her candidacy, "Dreams Taking Flight," in order to raise even more money. This sudden urgency is necessary because if and when she is confirmed as secretary of State, Clinton will be prohibited from being directly involved in fundraising.

That's not the only bit of Obama-Clinton news for the day. According to the Politico's Ben Smith, Obama is not getting involved in the selection of Clinton's replacement in the Senate. Specifically, New York Gov. David Paterson told Smith that Obama had not pushed Caroline Kennedy to fill the vacancy. Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter concurred. In an e-mail to Smith, she said, "President-elect Obama has a very high regard for Caroline Kennedy... But, he has not spoken with Governor Paterson or Caroline Kennedy about the race, and has no involvement in this process."

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Hillary Rodham Clinton Joe Biden War Room