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Kerry Says Obama Gives Him 'Enormous Latitude' on Foreign Policy

Secretary of State John Kerry chats with host Charlie Rose during a PBS interview on April 5, 2016, in New York. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry told PBS that working under President Obama has been a positive experience in part because of the “enormous latitude” Obama has given his fellow former senator.

Kerry was asked by PBS’ Charlie Rose on Tuesday: “Does foreign policy concede the State Department or the White House?”

“It is always a combination, Charlie, and I always — you know, as a former chair of the Foreign Relations Committee and 28 years on the committee watching the different relationships, the different national security advisors and secretaries, I always knew that one of the first rules is, you know, don’t get into terse squabbles and don’t start fighting,” Kerry replied.

“You are there to serve the president, both the national security advisor and the secretary. And I serve at the pleasure of the president. And so, you know, it just makes sense to be a team. And we are a good team. I believe that.”

Still, the secretary said, “it is too early for retrospectives.”

“But I will tell you that he has given me enormous latitude. He had trusted me. He has given me enormous scope to go out and try something, and put him at risk too in the doing of it. And I have huge respect for the president’s strength with respect to letting someone else go do something and he has been there every step of the way, believe me,” Kerry added.

“He was deeply involved in the details of the Iran agreement. He knew exactly what he could tolerate politically and otherwise. He made the final cut and we’re willing to go with this or not. And I think he deserves the credit for that.”

Kerry was reminded that four years before Obama won the presidency he was the party’s nominee.

“Yes. It didn’t quite turn out the way I intended,” Kerry said.

Kerry said he believed Obama “absolutely” had “the potential to be a future president.”

“I just didn’t think that I would wind up working for him as president,” he added. “I have no complaints. I have always believed this is the best job in the government. I think — I really think that. Best job. Better than president.”

Why is being secretary of State better than occupying the Oval Office?

“I don’t have to go out and raise unbelievable amounts of money, and I am serious,” Kerry said.