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An altered line of succession to President Obama: A new No. 3

June 29, 2010 |  9:12 am

Hawaii Democrat senator Daniel Inouye

Do you recognize this man?

He could become the nation's second president from Hawaii. He's Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye.

With the death this week of West Virginia's 92-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd, Inouye becomes the Senate's longest-serving member and thus president pro tem, meaning he is now third in line to the presidency.

Inouye will be 86 years old this year and has been a senator since little Barry Obama was in diapers. Obama didn't finish his first six-year Senate term. Inouye is wrapping up his eighth.

And faces reelection this November. If his party retains its Senate majority, Inouye will remain chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

On Dec. 7, 1941, a teenage Inouye was teaching first aid when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor. He tended the wounded for a week and then entered the Army, seeing combat in Italy and France. Shortly before the war's end Inouye lost his right arm in battle.

While recuperating in a veterans hospital, Inouye chatted up another patient who had just lost use of his right arm too. That other patient was Bob Dole, who went on to become a Republican senator. Small world. Or special hospital ward.

Dole eventually became Gerald Ford's VP partner in a losing 1976 campaign and then lost his very own presidential campaign in 1996 to Bill Clinton, who did not fight in World War II but has already been president.

Now, Inouye sits third in line to become commander-in-chief behind these two congressional veterans:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 70

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California

and Vice President Joe Biden, 67

Democrat vice president Joe Biden

All three happen to be Democrats, like Obama. So, no need to worry about any potential changes in policy.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press (Inouye) (Pelosi) (Biden).

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