Obama nominates John Kerry as next Secretary of State
Kerry is noted for his experience and relationship-building skills that could help him succeed outgoing Sec. Hilary Clinton. Sec. Clinton recently announced she would step down after Obama’s inauguration in January.
“In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role,” Pres. Obama said Friday afternoon when he made the announcement official in Washington.
“He’s not going to need a lot of on the job training,” Obama said of Sen. Kerry.
Citing his nominee’s military experience during the Vietnam War as well as his efforts to resolve the conflict after serving, Pres. Obama said the senator is “a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.”
President Obama also celebrated Sen. Kerry’s tenure as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a position he will have to resign from before moving to his new cabinet role.
“It won’t be easy to leave the Senate that you love,” the president said.
Nicholas Burns, the former ambassador to Russia who has served under every secretary of state since Warren Christopher, said of the president’s pick, “There are very few people with greater experience over a longer period of time.”
Kerry has won support from both Democrats and Republicans. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell told CNN that he would be a popular choice with the Senate. That isn’t to say he was necessarily the number one pick for the commander-in-chief.
Up until only this month, the US representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice, was expected to be offered the position of secretary of state. Following her comments regarding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, though, Rice’s presumed appointment was put in jeopardy by a whirlwind of criticism in the media.
Rice, among one of the first leading US officials to speak of the attacks, notoriously misrepresented the acts of terrorism. In the weeks that followed, what knowledge she had over the Libyan affair and how she handled it became a constant matter of debate.
Last week, Rice released a letter she sent to Pres. Obama in which she announced that she no longer wanted to be considered for the role of secretary of state.
“The position of secretary of state should never be politicized,” she wrote.
“As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship and as a sitting US national security official who has served in two US Administrations, I’m saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people.”
President Obama responded by calling Rice “an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant,” adding, “while I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of those critics that disapproved the possible appointment, went public with her opposition. NBC News reports that Sen. Collins was among a group of politicians concerned not necessarily with Rice’s take on the Benghazi incident, but how she handled the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Nairobi in 1998.
"I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues," Collins said at the time.
Kerry, who ran for president in 2004, was accused of being an Iraqi war defeatist because he was willing to talk to America’s adversaries, but found his place in the Senate as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.