Obama nominates Kerry as Secretary of State
"Today I'm looking ahead to my second term, and I am very proud to announce my choice for America's next secretary of state: John Kerry," Obama said making a personal announcement at the White House, with Kerry standing by his side along with Vice President Joe Biden.
69-year-old Kerry, currently the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a close confidant of Obama on foreign policy issues.
He has decades of foreign policy experience, which has very often been praised by opponents Republicans.
"This makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead," Obama said.
If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State, who is currently recovering from a severe stomach infection.
Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts and the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nominee, is noted for the experience, gravitas and relationship-building skills that could help him succeed as the United States' top diplomat.
He is expected to easily sail through the Senate confirmation process because of his long serving in the Senate and his good relationship with Republican Senators.
This was Obama's first nomination to his national security term for his second term.
Obama is scheduled to take the oath of his second term on January 21, 2013.
Praising Kerry, Obama said in an extraordinarily distinguished Senate career and as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years.
"Over these many years, John's earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training. He has earned the respect and trust of his Senate colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. I think it's fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry. And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead," Obama said.
"As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we've got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they're working together: diplomatic and development, economic and political, military and intelligence, as well as the power of our values, which inspire so many people around the world," he said.
"As John (Kerry) has said, we are an exceptional nation not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things. I'd say that one of the more exceptional things we've seen in recent decades was when John helped lead the way, along with folks like John McCain and others, to restore our diplomatic ties with Vietnam," Obama said.
In his remarks, Obama said over the past four years, the US has begun a new era of American leadership.
"We ended the war in Iraq. We put the Al Qaida core on the path to defeat. We're winding down the war in Afghanistan. We've strengthened our alliances, including in Asia, forged new coalitions to meet global challenges, and stood up for human dignity from North Africa to the Middle East to Burma," he said.
"We still, of course, face great challenges, but today I can say with pride that the United States is safer, stronger, and more respected in the world," he added.
"On a personal level, John has been a great friend. I've appreciated John's partnership in helping to advance so many of my foreign policy priorities, including the ratification of the New START treaty. I've called on his talents and diplomatic skills on several occasions on complex challenges from Sudan and South Sudan to the situation in Afghanistan, and each time he has been exemplary," Obama said.
The President also thanked Clinton for being an outstanding Secretary of State.
"Hillary wanted very much to be here today, but she continues to recuperate. I had a chance to talk to her earlier today, and she is in good spirits and could not be more excited about the announcement that I'm making," he said.
"Over the last four years, Hillary's been everywhere -- both in terms of her travels, which have seen her represent America in more countries than any previous secretary of state, and through her tireless work to restore our global leadership," Obama said.
"She is looking forward to getting back to work, and I am looking forward to paying tribute to her extraordinary service in the days to come," he said.