President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Sen. John Kerry as his next secretary of state, saying Kerry’s entire life prepared him for the role.
“He’s not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” said Obama, standing alongside Kerry at the White House. "Few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our policies as firmly as John Kerry.”
If confirmed by the Senate, the 69-year-old Democrat from Massachusetts will vacate the seat he’s held since 1985 to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in Obama’s second-term Cabinet, giving Republicans an opportunity to retake it after five terms.
Kerry’s only rival for the job was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who withdrew her name from consideration last week after facing harsh criticism from congressional Republicans over her misleading account of the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Kerry’s Cabinet nomination is the first Obama has made since winning his second term, and will be the first piece in an extensive reworking of his national security team.
The son of a diplomat, Kerry, who has served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a decorated Vietnam veteran, will be responsible not only for executing the president’s foreign policy plans, but also for shaping Obama’s approach.
Obama considered Kerry for the job after the 2008 election, before picking Clinton, in a surprise move. Since then, he has deployed Kerry around the world on his behalf on numerous occasions, particularly to calm diplomatic disputes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was also a part of Obama’s debate preparations team during the most recent election, playing GOP challenger Mitt Romney in mock verbal bouts.