Obama taps Kerry for secretary of state
Senator expected to be easily confirmed to replace Clinton.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, one of Washington’s most respected voices on foreign policy, as his next secretary of state.
The move is the first in an expected overhaul of Obama’s national security team heading into his second term.
As the nation’s top diplomat, Kerry will not only be tasked with executing the president’s foreign policy objectives, but will also have a hand in shaping them. The longtime lawmaker has been in lockstep with Obama on issues like nuclear non-proliferation, but ahead of the White House in advocating aggressive policies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere that the president later embraced.
“He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Obama said, standing alongside Kerry in a Roosevelt Room ceremony. “Few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry.”
He is expected to win confirmation easily in the Senate, where he has served since 1985, the past six years as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Kerry would take the helm at the State Department from Secretary Hillary Clinton, who has long planned to leave the administration early next year. She is recovering from a concussion and did not attend the White House event.
In a statement, Clinton said, “John Kerry has been tested — in war, in government, and in diplomacy. Time and again, he has proven his mettle.”
Obama settled on Kerry for the job even though it could cause a political problem for Democrats in Massachusetts. Kerry’s
69; Dec. 11, 1943. Bachelor’s degree, political science, Yale University, 1966; law degree, Boston College, 1976. EXPERIENCE : U.S. Senate, 1985-present; unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president, 2004; Massachusetts lieutenant governor, 1983-1985; lawyer in private practice, 1979-1982; Middlesex County, Mass., prosecutor, 1976-1978; spokesman, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, 1971; Navy officer, awarded Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat‘V,’three Purple Hearts for Vietnam War service, 1966-1970.
Wife, Teresa Heinz; two children, three stepchildren, two grandchildren. move to State would open his Senate seat, giving Republicans an opportunity to take advantage. Recently defeated GOP Sen. Scott Brown would be his party’s favorite in a special election.
Kerry would join a national security team in flux, with Obama expected to choose a new defense secretary and director of the Central Intelligence Agency soon.
The 69-year-old Kerry already has deep relationships with many world leaders, formed both during his Senate travels and as an unofficial envoy for Obama. The president has called upon Kerry in particular to diffuse diplomatic disputes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, two countries that will be at the forefront of Obama’s foreign policy agenda early in his second term.
At times, Kerry has been more forwardleaning than Obama on foreign policy issues. He was an early advocate of an international “nofly zone” over Libya in 2011 and among the first U.S. lawmakers to call for Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak to leave power as pro-democracy protests grew. Obama later backed both positions.
‘He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,’ President Barack Obama said of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during a White House ceremony Friday to announce Kerry as Obama’s pick to be secretary of state.