ENDING days of speculation, Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn said Tuesday he will go forward with plans to take up his post as US ambassador to the Vatican. His decision clears the way for the many candidates eager to be his successor.
Over the weekend, Mr. Flynn indicated that he was not interested in the position if he could not travel to troubled areas such as Bosnia and Haiti.
But Tuesday at a Washington press conference in front of the White House, the mayor said President Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher assured him he could assume an expanded role as ambassador.
"The money issue itself was not the issue," said Flynn. "I just wanted to make sure that I had responsibility and I had a broad role."
Mr. Clinton appointed Flynn to the post in March. A pro-choice, conservative Democrat, the Boston mayor campaigned around the country for Clinton during the presidential race to help build support from the so-called Reagan Democrats.
But over the weekend, Flynn expressed doubts about his new role. One reason is because the State Department refused to allow him to hold a fund-raiser intended to raise money for entertainment and travel expenses for the ambassadorship.
Flynn said the State Department did not understand the original plan he worked out in March with Clinton on his enlarged role. The mayor envisions a position allowing him to deal with economic and social justice issues, hunger, and homelessness in trouble spots around the world. He said he wanted to take a position that was more than simply ceremonial.
The Boston mayor surprised some because he made his dissatisfaction with the Clinton administration public. At a special meeting Sunday, Flynn told mayoral candidates of his reservations about his new post.
"I think he's been very, very clever. He's taken full advantage of the president's weakness," says Joseph Slavet, senior fellow at the University of Massachusetts' McCormack Institute in Boston. "The president is under fire from every which place ... and so [Clinton] didn't need another diversion. He didn't need another screaming body complaining about his appointment."
While the Senate must still confirm his nomination as ambassador, Flynn hopes details will be wrapped up by June 19 when Clinton arrives in Boston to speak at Northeastern University's graduation.
Flynn is serving the second half of his third four-year term as mayor.