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Obama Picks Kerry for State Department: President Obama tapped Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be State Secretary during Obama's second term, replacing Hillary Clinton, who plans to step down in January. "In a sense, John's entire life has prepared him for this role," said Obama on Dec. 21 in remarks announcing Kerry as his pick in the White House's Roosevelt Room with Kerry at his side. Obama said he was "confident" the Senate would confirm Kerry quickly. The President noted that Kerry is "the son of a foreign service officer," "served with valor in Vietnam," and has had "an extraordinarily distinguished Senate career," including serving as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman in the 112th Congress. "John has played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years," said Obama. "He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," he added. Kerry is an "excellent choice," said Clinton, who's led the State Department since January 2009, in a statement. "He will bring decades of service to our country and deep experience in international affairs," she said. Kerry has been in the Senate since 1985. He was the Democratic Presidential nominee in the 2004 election, but lost to George Bush. (Kerry's official biography)