President Baraka Obama nominates John Kerry for secretary of state. The senior senator from Massachusetts is noted for the experience, gravitas and relationship-building skills that could help him succeed Hillary Clinton, the outgoing top U.S. diplomat.
He has support from Republicans as well as Democrats. The nomination will be sent to the Senate for confirmation.
“There are very few people with greater experience over a longer period of time,” said Nicholas Burns, a former career ambassador who has served every secretary of state since Warren Christopher, and was most recently undersecretary for political affairs under Condoleezza Rice. “He would be a very, very impressive choice.”
Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, losing a close election to incumbent George W. Bush. He’s a decorated Vietnam veteran who was critical of the war effort when he returned to the U.S., even testifying in front of the Senate committee he eventually chaired.
Kerry’s only other rival for the job, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, faced harsh criticism from congressional Republicans for her initial accounting of the deadly September attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Obama vigorously defended Rice, a close friend and longtime adviser, but GOP senators dug in, threatening to hold up her nomination if the president tapped her for the post.
Kerry, 69, is the first Cabinet nomination Obama has made since winning a second term, and the first piece in an extensive shuffle of his national security team. The president is also expected soon to nominate a new defense secretary to take over for retiring Leon Panetta and a new director of the Central Intelligence Agency to replace former spy chief David Petreaus, who resigned last month after admitting to an affair with his biographer.
Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long sought the nation’s top diplomatic post. Obama considered him for the job after the 2008 election before picking Clinton in a surprise move.
“You really need someone who is a renaissance person with a tremendous range of skill, both political and substantive, with a deep reservoir of knowledge,” Burns said in an interview. “You need someone who can drill several layers deep on foreign policy issues.”
The Guardian Express Staff