Hillary Clinton has all but officially confirmed her retiring as U.S. Secretary of State, leaving many wondering who will replace her during Barack Obama's second term as president. Though there are many candidates with strong qualifications, we'll be taking a look at three very clear front-runners to take the popular Hillary Clinton's much-coveted political position: John Kerry, Jon Huntsman, and Bill Richardson.

(Update: for a reach across the aisle, take a look at my article on Chris Christie's chances to be the 2016 Presidential Candidate)

Will John Kerry Replace Hillary Clinton As Secretary Of State?

Many analysts argue that Senator John Kerry, the former Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States in 2004, has the strongest chance to replace Hillary Clinton as President Obama's Secretary of State during his second term. Though Kerry lost to George W. Bush by a significant margin in 2004, that had little to do with the Massachusetts Senator's qualifications.

Currently, John Kerry serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, meaning that placing him in a position wherein he becomes synonymous with United States foreign policy will seem more like a promotion-- a logical next step for his political career-- rather than Democratic cronyism. After all, John Kerry has also worked very closely with President Obama during his debate preparation against defeated Governor Mitt Romney, subbing in for the President's opponent as Obama prepared for the race.

Could that proximity, along with his capacity unofficial capacity as a sort of envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, mean that John Kerry will replace Hillary Clinton once she retires? It could be. He is, after all, the safest choice of the bunch. But given the fact that President Obama eschewed the safest choice-- Bill Richardson-- in 2008 in an superstar effort to mend the schism within his party, we know that this is a President who doesn't really make safe choices. The bolder move, here, is to choose someone else. And given that it is a bold man's second term, that is, perhaps, exactly what he will do.

We'll put John Kerry in a strong second place to take over Hillary Clinton's position as Secretary of State. Like with Bill Richardson four years ago, President Obama is aware that John Kerry is a candidate-- but is probably looking for more dazzling avenues for Hillary Clinton's retiring.

Will Bill Richardson Take The Spot?

Once upon a time, the year was 2008, and no one would have guessed that after Barack Obama made a concerted effort during his primary campaign to punch holes in opponent Hillary Clinton's claims of foreign policy expertise, he would be picking the "tea-drinking" candidate for one of the highest and most important positions in his cabinet.

Back then, the Democratic Party believed the logical choice to be Bill Richardson, the former Governor of New Mexico. Under the Clinton Administration, Bill Richardson served as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, becoming one of only a small smattering of Americans to visit all of the "axis of evil" nations.

Among his many achievements include his obtaining a pardon for Eliadah McCord, an American serving a prison sentence in Bangladesh. He also retrieved Evan Hunziker from North Korean custody.

Will President Obama reset the clock to 2008, and will Bill Richardson replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State? That could definitely still happen. Though a Bill Richardson appointment could happen, we'll be calling that in at an unlikely third. Hillary Clinton's retiring means that she can only be replaced by another superstar, and Bill Richardson just doesn't have that kind of power or appeal.

Will Jon Huntsman Replace Hillary Clinton As Secretary Of State?

I know this sounds crazy, but hear us out. Though Jon Huntsman was defeated as early as the Republican primary, there were many a voter across the aisle who wanted to see more from him. In an era where the popular commonplace, as ubiquitous as it was correct, bespoke a party hijacked by "fringe lunatics" and a conservative leadership kowtowing to their fear-mongering in an effort to keep their jobs, only Jon Huntsman, Jr's stances on the issues never faltered and never became more conservative.

Every time he opened his mouth, he seemed to be talking like a liberal. The things he said made a ton of sense. His economic plan received early support from The Wall Street Journal, which hailed it as the absolute best from any GOP Presidential candidate.

Democrats like him, and Moderate Democrats love him. The fact that he never conceded an inch on his moderate-to-liberal policies could bespeak an unfaltering approach to the application of Obama's foreign policy behind enemy lines. Why, then, do we think Jon Huntsman will replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?

Three words: The Chinese Question. President Barack Obama appointed Jon Huntsman to serve his country as the United States Ambassador to China. With China slated to potentially overtake America as the economic leader of the world, it's not wrongheaded to speculate that the four years to come will see a strong relationship with China as vital. Huntsman is the man for that job.

But what stands in the way of Obama choosing Jon Huntsman to replace Hillary Clinton? Quite simply, Hillary herself. If Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2016, or even if she doesn't, Barack Obama will have legitimized a strong potential rival for the Democratic Party. Though it shows a President willing to put country first before his party's own political agenda, it means that, should Huntsman run again in 2016, conservatives won't be scratching their heads and wondering who he is, like they did during primary season.

But that is, perhaps, thinking too far ahead. After all, they could also be tired of "RINOs." And that's why we think Jon Huntsman stands the strongest chance of replacing Hillary Clinton as President Obama's U.S. Secretary of State.