Obama Nominates John Kerry As Next Secretary Of State



U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Democratic Senator John Kerry as his next secretary of state on Friday, making the first move in a sweeping overhaul of his national security team heading into a second term.

Kerry will take the helm at the State Department from outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has long stated her intentions to leave early next year. Kerry, a longtime Massachusetts senator, is expected to be easily approved for the cabinet post by his Capitol Hill colleagues.

The moves opens up the Senate seat Kerry has held for nearly three decades. Recently defeated Republican Senator Scott Brown is eying it, though Massachusetts Democrats insist the party can keep the seat out of Republican hands.

Word about Washington’s latest worst-kept secret came at a sombre and somewhat unusual time, with both the president and Kerry attending a memorial service for Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. At the same time, leaders of the nation’s divided government were in limbo about how to head off the fiscal cliff’s looming Jan. 1, 2013, deadline.

Kerry 1st piece of cabinet shuffle

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, UN 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 Republican senators dug in, threatening to hold up her nomination if the president tapped her for the post.

Rice withdrew her name from consideration last week, making Kerry all but certain to become the nominee. People familiar with the White House’s decision-making said support within the administration was moving toward Kerry even before Rice pulled out.

The cabinet nomination of Kerry, 69, is the first 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 defence secretary to take over for retiring Leon Panetta and a new director of the Central Intelligence Agency to replace former spy chief David Petraeus, who resigned last month after admitting to an affair with his biographer.



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