Washington – President Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry to be the next secretary of state Friday, calling him the "perfect choice" to replace Hillary Clinton and lead America's foreign policy.
The decision comes after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice removed herself from consideration last week, amid mounting resistance from Republicans. Lawmakers remain concerned over her comments in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack in which she claimed the attack was "spontaneous."
Kerry, though, was already being eyed as a possible pick before Rice pulled out. Obama, in announcing his decision, cited his years of experience in the Senate and as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
"In a sense, John's entire life has prepared him for this role. ... John's played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years," the president said.
Obama added: "Few individuals know as many presidents or prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry."
Kerry would have to be confirmed by the Senate to assume the post.
The president announced the decision in a brief press conference at the White House as lawmakers were going home for the holidays. The nomination marks the president's first move in replacing those members of his Cabinet who are not sticking around for a second term.
The former Democratic presidential nominee arguably gave Obama his start on the national stage when, during the 2004 presidential campaign, he tapped Obama to deliver the convention keynote -- a milestone Obama referenced Friday.
Kerry lost the 2004 race in a close election to incumbent George W. Bush. He is also 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.
The president picked Kerry for the post even though his nomination could create a political problem in Massachusetts. Republicans are eyeing the Senate seat Kerry would vacate after five terms, and recently defeated GOP Sen. Scott Brown would be a favorite in his party for the job.
The president is also expected soon to nominate a new defense 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.