First on CNN: Has the US government seen the last of John Kerry?

John Kerry Secretary of State goodbye speech_00000000
John Kerry Secretary of State goodbye speech_00000000

    JUST WATCHED

    John Kerry says goodbye

MUST WATCH

John Kerry says goodbye 01:17

Story highlights

  • It was unclear if the Democratic statesman meant that he expects his party to take back the White House in 2020
  • The 73-year-old didn't share any more details of his future political plans

Washington (CNN)On a cool spring evening, in the leafy shelter of a sprawling, jasmine-scented metro Washington, DC backyard, John Kerry was in a serious mood.

Appearing relaxed but pensive, he had been introduced to the two dozen or so attendees by a former staffer, who had mentioned his "last" government position leading the State Department during President Barack Obama's second term.
But in a short speech at the private gathering, Kerry went out of his way to make the point -- emphatically -- that his four years as Secretary of State might in fact not be his "last" position in the US government. And he didn't seem to be joking.
It was unclear if the Democratic statesman meant that he expects his party to take back the White House in 2020, but it left attendees intrigued. His comment became the hopeful chatter of the rest of the evening. The 73-year-old didn't share any more details of his future political plans, but he did have plenty to say about the current state of affairs in the world -- and within the US.
Kerry deeply lamented what he sees as a deterioration in "good governance"-- especially, he said, in America. While other nations may have plans looking 35 years ahead, he said of the US under President Donald Trump: "We don't even have a five-year plan."
He asked listeners to name one large-scale, visionary project the US is currently working on. There was silence.
And he seemed to obliquely reference the words of current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who told an auditorium full of State Department employees Wednesday that there are times when they will need to separate values from policy -- stunning many current and former diplomats.
"American values are universal values," Kerry said. "Now is not the time to retreat... now is the time for the US to engage."
As the State Department prepares to dramatically slash its budget and foreign aid, Kerry said what has set the US apart through generations has been is its charity and generosity.
Which, he said, ultimately contributes to America's national security.