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As expected, President Barack Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry on Friday to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State.
“John’s earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world,” Obama said Friday in announcing his pick. “He’s not going to need a lot of on-the-job training.”
For the Massachusetts Democrat, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, the decision is the culmination of a long-held ambition to helm the nation’s foreign policy from the executive branch.
Kerry’s confirmation is all but assured. Many Republicans had pre-endorsed him for the job and had taken to calling him “Mr. Secretary” in recent weeks, particularly after fierce Republican opposition led United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice to take herself out of the running for the post. A swift confirmation is expected early next year.
Several other Republicans also suggested Kerry would not face concerted opposition.
“I think a lot of us could support him,” Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Friday. “He’s been involved in this a long time; he’s very mature now, like a lot of us.”
Bob Corker, R-Tenn., likely the next ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would not comment Friday on whether he would vote to confirm Kerry.
But Corker said, “I do think he’ll be easily confirmed.”
“Sen. Kerry and I had a good working relationship on Foreign Relations,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Friday. “Obviously we have disagreements on some foreign policy issues and on many domestic ones, but he has always been respectful of my views and has always given me the opportunity to air them. He’s clearly qualified.”
Rubio added that Kerry will, like any nominee, have to go through the Senate vetting process. But, given Kerry’s well-known record as a senator and presidential nominee, Rubio said he doesn’t expect any surprises.
The pick of Kerry sets the stage for a special election battle in Massachusetts, where defeated Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown is expected to try to return to the Senate.
Kerry’s impending departure leaves an opening atop the Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is widely expected to succeed Kerry as chairman. Menendez’s ascension is likely to lead to a more combative relationship between the Senate and the White House on several areas of foreign policy, particularly toward Cuba and Iran.
Kerry would bring deep experience in foreign affairs to the State Department post.