President Barack Obama on Friday will nominate Senator Senator John F. Kerry as the next secretary of state succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The decision by Obama, expected to be announced early Friday afternoon, after Kerry returns from the National Cathedral in Washington, where he was attending the funeral of former colleague Senator Daniel Inouye, comes at a time when Clinton has been recovering from a concussion suffered earlier this month, Boston.com reported.
Clinton, who has long said she would leave the post after Obama’s first term, is not expected to attend the announcement, a senior administration official told the New York Times.
The appointment of Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and his party’s former presidential nominee in 2004, has been widely expected since last week, when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice asked Obama to withdraw her candidacy for the post.
Dr. Rice had been seen as a front-runner for the job, but had come under weeks of withering attack from Republicans in Congress who said her TV talk show comments in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya were misleading.
In contrast, Kerry has support from Republicans as well as Democrats. "There are very few people with greater experience over a longer period of time," 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 told CNN. "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."
Some background on Kerry’s experience, from the Washington Post:
Kerry has found a place in the foreign policy spotlight under Obama. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a job he took over when Joe Biden became vice president, Kerry became an activist in the Senate and a trusted administration emissary.
And from the New York Times:
Kerry has carried out several diplomatic missions for the Obama administration, helping to persuade President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to agree to a runoff election in 2009. Early in the administration, he also tried to engage President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who has waged a brutal crackdown on his own people as he fights to cling to power.
Yet Kerry, 69, who has long coveted the job of secretary of state, is not without his critics. The “Swift Boat” veterans, who attacked Kerry’s record as a decorated naval officer in Vietnam during his presidential campaign, have voiced disapproval of his potential selection. He is also likely to face questions over his dealings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before the civil war. The nomination will be sent to the Senate for confirmation.