Player of the Week: Sec. Hillary Clinton

In recent weeks, she has called on Congress to back a new arms treaty with Russia, stressed that the U.S. will keep nuclear weapons as long as there are countries that have access to weapons of mass destruction and tiptoed around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to skip this week’s conference in Washington on nuclear issues.

The conference, aimed at convincing world leaders to tackle the threat of nuclear arms falling into the hands of terrorists, could be a defining moment in Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.

What is most pressing on Clinton’s mind is convincing the necessary two-thirds of the Senate to approve the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms pact.

During a Friday speech in Louisville, Ky., with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the audience, Clinton said the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) merits bipartisan support. She said the START agreement “is the latest chapter in the history of American nuclear responsibility, a chapter that has been co-authored by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and even further back.”

Clinton will need at least eight Republicans to sign on — and that will not be easy.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend that Clinton does not yet have 67 yes votes.

In order to get the votes, Lieberman said, the Obama administration should commit to modernizing America’s existing nuclear stockpile and reject Russia’s demand that the U.S. halt plans for a European missile defense system.

As she is looking for senators to endorse the treaty, Clinton will need to deal with speculation that the president will tap her for the Supreme Court. The White House on Monday sought to dispel that possibility, but it will still be a topic of conversation in the halls of the Senate this week.