Chicago, Nov.26 : A mentor of US President-elect Barack Obama has described as very worrying the latter's preference for Hillary Clinton as the next Secretary of State.
Abner Mikva, a former federal judge who was Bill Clinton's White House counsel, told The Times that the choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State worried him because of her husband.
Although not a member of the White House transition team, Mikva was once one of Obama's most powerful patrons in Chicago, and is the first person with ties to the President-elect to express misgivings publicly about Mr. Clinton's impact on the new administration.
"I worry about the difficulty not that she brings, but that her husband brings," he said.
"His (Bill Clinton's) entire career since leaving the White House has involved foreign contacts, foreign speeches and foreign contributions," Mikva said. "I don't know how you separate her activities from his - how you vet those. As far as I'm concerned they will all have to be made public. I think that will be very embarrassing to President Clinton and to the donors," he added.
One of the main stumbling blocks to Hillary Clinton's nomination as Obama's Secretary of State - which will be announced formally next week - was Bill Clinton's financial ties to foreign governments, and the list of donors to his philanthropic foundation and presidential library.
After negotiations between both camps last week, Bill Clinton agreed to hand over the names of more than 200,000 donors to the Obama White House transition team, and to have future foreign speeches and engagements vetted so as to avoid any potential conflicts of interest with his wife.
"I'm not saying there is anything illegal. But it causes complications trying to make clear that what they do in private has nothing to do with our foreign policy," said Mikva, 82.
Mikva said he had a "tremendous amount of confidence" in Obama's ability to confront the challenges he faces. Yet he said he was worried that the expectations for him were too great.