WASHINGTON — Seven weeks before he leaves office, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is being mentioned as a possible candidate for either secretary of state or CIA director.
News organizations Politico and Slate have included the 36-year senator among prospects to replace David Petraeus, who resigned from the helm at the CIA last week after acknowledging an extramarital affair with his biographer.
And the websites for the American Spectator and the Moderate Voice have speculated about Lugar’s chances to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton, who plans to step down as secretary of state before President Obama’s second term begins.
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher dismissed the guessing game involving his boss, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its top-ranking Republican.
“There has not been any contact from the (Obama) administration,” Fisher said Tuesday in an email. “This is typical speculation that comes up every time these positions are open, and there is never any knowledgeable basis to the speculation.”
A former Lugar aide said the CIA post seemed a more likely fit for the Hoosier senator.
“Remember,” Mark Helmke wrote in an email, “he started as a Navy intelligence briefer and long served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.”
Michael Morrell, the deputy director of the CIA, is believed to have the inside track on the CIA job.
Helmke, who teaches communications at Trine University, said Lugar, “on several occasions” let it be known in the 1990s that he would not be President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state if he were asked.
“No offer was directly made because Lugar sent the signal he was not interested,” Helmke said. “I presume he is still not interested, and made sure the Obama administration knows that.”
The smart money is on either Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, or Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton. But Lugar’s name has been thrown around, too, in part because Obama considered Lugar a foreign policy mentor when both were in the Senate.
Mark Daniels wrote Tuesday on the Moderate Voice website that the selection of Lugar as secretary of state “would move beyond symbolism to substance while underscoring (Obama’s) commitment to foreign policy realism.”
Daniels described Lugar, 80, as “an old pro on the international scene.” He wrote that Lugar’s age would not be a problem because the six-term senator is an avid runner.
Therese Postel of the Century Foundation has listed Lugar among the “sleeper picks” to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton.
His nomination “would be a remarkable reach across the aisle and a tangible effort by President Obama to heal divisions between the two parties,” Postel wrote Friday.
Talk about Lugar as a prospective secretary of state pick started shortly after he lost the May 8 Republican primary election to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who was defeated in the Nov. 6 general election by Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd.
In May, the American Spectator’s Wlady Pleszcyznski noted that, as far back as 1994, New York Times columnist William Safire had called Lugar “somebody’s next Secretary of State.”
Meanwhile, Evan Bayh, a former Indiana governor and U.S. senator, said Tuesday he is not seeking an appointment in the second Obama administration.
“I’m not looking for a job or anything like that here today,” Bayh said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” in response to a question. “Look, I would be happy to serve my country or talk about it seriously if any president called me.”
Bayh said he “was flattered to be considered (for) vice president” by Obama before his election in 2008.