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After Nine Months, Post Is Delivered

Marshall at her swearing-in, with husband Rob, parents Mary and Frank Penavic, son Cole and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Michael Gross/State Department)

It took nine months, but Capricia Marshall is finally -- and fully -- the new chief of protocol of the United States.

The journey from Clinton confidante to ambassador ended Thursday afternoon when a delighted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally swore in her longtime aide and protege. "Capricia has been an extraordinary friend and colleague," she told the crowd packed into the State Department's Ben Franklin reception room. "There is no one in Washington who has worked for me longer. ...It is, for me, a great personal pleasure."

The glamorous Marshall, 45, hitched her star to the Clinton family in 1992, serving as right hand for the first lady, protector to Chelsea Clinton (who attended the swearing-in), White House social secretary and insider on Hillary's Senate and presidential bids. Her loyalty was rewarded this year with the plum protocol job -- but the confirmation was delayed for a tense few months while Marshall sorted out tax issues and what exactly her role would be as official liaison to foreign leaders, and whether the Obama camp would put one of their own into a new unofficial role that would take away some of her responsibilities.

All that's ancient history. The White House sent senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Social Secretary Desirée Rogers to the ceremony, which looked like a reunion of Team Clinton: Terry McAuliffe, Ann Jordan, Bob Johnson, Lisa Caputo, Mandy Grunwald and Melanne Verveer, along with former White House social secretaries and protocol chiefs Ann Stock, Lea Berman, Lucky Roosevelt and Lloyd Hand. "Everyone we know is here!" Verveer said. "If you don't get out much, this is the way to do it."

The newly minted ambassador -- with husband Rob and son Cole at her side, and her parents, Frank and Mary Penavic, proudly watching -- was both exuberant and humble. "I could not be more thrilled," she said, beaming. Then she thanked Clinton, who took her on "the roller coaster ride of a lifetime," President Obama, and many, many others: "To quote our secretary, it does take a village to bring me here today -- and in my case, a really, really big one."

By The Reliable Source  |  September 11, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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