WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama today nominated Sen. John Kerry, the former presidential candidate who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to be the next 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 US diplomat.
Kerry has traveled the globe on behalf of the Obama administration to mend frayed relationships. Most notably, he traveled to Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, that had set relations back.
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.”
“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.”
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice had been seen as a front-runner for the job, but she withdrew her name from consideration after Republicans said her TV talk show comments about the killings of Americans in Libya were misleading.
Kerry soon became the top candidate for the job. Republicans opposed to a Rice nomination have bandied about Kerry’s name for weeks, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that Kerry would be a “popular choice with the Senate.” (CNN)