John Kerry: Secretary of State

Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leave a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in this Nov. 17, 2010 file photo in Washington.

Updated with Obama’s comments at 1:42 pm EST

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the state’s senior senator and the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004, was named today by President Barack Obama as his choice for the next secretary of state.

“In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role,” Obama said today.  Kerry is the son of a foreign service officer and a veteran of Vietnam, the president noted, with Kerry standing beside him. “One of the more exceptional things we’ve seen in recent decades is when John led the way (along with Sen. John McCain) to restore our diplomatic relations with Vietnam.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former senator from New York and former first lady, will be leaving the post as the nation’s top diplomat.

In Kerry, Obama has a replacement with deep experience in world affairs. He is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training,” Obama said.

Obama also has a candidate who can expect easy Senate confirmation. It was Obama himself, then a candidate for the Senate from Illinois, who delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that nominated Kerry for president in 2004.

Kerry is a decorated war veteran who came home to protest U.S. engagement in Vietnam and first was elected to the Senate in 1984.

The senator’s seat will be filled by appointment, with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in a position to find a Democrat who can help his party hold the office after the state just this year chose Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren to replace Republican Sen. Scott Brown. State law will require a special election between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy.

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