WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama has decided to nominate Sen. John Kerry to be the next secretary of state and could make a formal announcement as early as next week, a Democrat who spoke to Kerry told today.
The expected nomination follows U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's decision to withdraw her name from consideration for the post. She dropped out of the running Thursday after weeks of criticism from Republicans about statements she made about the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kerry would replace current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who plans to leave her post within the administration.
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.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, recently jokingly referred to Kerry as "Mr. Secretary."
In his current role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry has traveled the globe on behalf of the Obama administration to mend frayed relationships. Most notably he has traveled to Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, that had set relations back.
World travel is second nature to Kerry, 69. Born in Denver, he spent much of his childhood overseas, living in Berlin before going to a Swiss boarding school at age 11.
After graduating from Yale University in 1966, Kerry was deployed to Vietnam as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Kerry served as a gunboat officer on the Mekong Delta, earning the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.
Upon his return home in the early 1970s, Kerry gained public recognition as the head of the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War and for his anti-war testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.