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Kerry easily earns Senate confirmation

– The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed President Obama’s choice of five-term Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state, with Republicans and Democrats praising him as the ideal successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The vote Tuesday was 94-3. Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., voted to confirm Kerry’s nomination.

No date has been set for Kerry’s swearing-in, but in a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Kerry says his resignation is effective at 4 p.m. Friday.

Obama tapped Kerry, 69, the son of a diplomat, decorated Vietnam veteran and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, to succeed Clinton. The Massachusetts Democrat, who had pined for the job but was passed over in 2009, has served as Obama’s unofficial envoy, smoothing fractious ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Sen. Kerry will need no introduction to the world’s political and military leaders and will begin Day 1 fully conversant not only with the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy, but able to act on a multitude of international stages,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who will succeed Kerry as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Brian Francisco of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

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