Obama taps Kerry for sec­re­tary of state

Se­na­tor ex­pected to be eas­ily con­firmed to re­place Clin­ton.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byjulie Pace JOHN KERRY AT A GLANCE AGE-BIRTH DATE: ED­U­CA­TION : FAM­ILY: AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS In Sun­day’s In­sight sec­tion Read ex­cerpts of Kerry’s re­cent speech at UT,

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.

CAROLYN KASTER / AP

‘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.

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