Accessibility links

Breaking News

Bush Picks Rice as Secretary of State

President Bush has chosen National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to be his new secretary of state. The move follows Colin Powell's decision to step down as America's top diplomat.

President Bush chose another long-time confidant to fill a key cabinet post for his second term.

After nominating White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez to head the Justice Department, Mr. Bush tapped his most trusted foreign policy adviser to head the State Department.

"Condi Rice is already known to all Americans and to much of the world," said Mr. Bush. "During the last four years, I have relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience, and appreciated her sound and steady judgment. And now I am honored she has agreed to serve in my cabinet. The Secretary of State is America's face to the world, and in Dr. Rice, the world will see the strength, the grace, and the decency of our country."

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Rice would be the first African-American woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. She would replace Colin Powell, who made clear to the president months ago that he would not stay on for a second term.

While Secretary Powell is widely respected abroad and is more popular among Americans than President Bush, he was often at odds with the White House and the Pentagon in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and on how best to confront North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Secretary Powell's more moderate, consensus-building approach generally lost-out to the more aggressive world view pursued by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The president's choice of Ms. Rice for State and Mr. Gonzales as Attorney General puts White House loyalists atop two of Washington's biggest bureaucracies, lowering the likelihood of dissenting voices inside the Cabinet Room.

Announcing his choice in the White House Roosevelt Room, President Bush said Ms. Rice will take office at a critical time for the country as it continues to fight terrorism.

In addition to winning that fight, Mr. Bush said foreign policy goals for a second term include aiding the forces of reform and freedom in the Middle East and opposing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Ms. Rice said she looks forward to pursuing what she calls the president's ambitious agenda.

"It is an honor to be asked to serve your administration and my country once again," she said. "And it is humbling to imagine succeeding my dear friend and mentor, Colin Powell. He his one of the finest public servants our nation has every produced."

While expected to win confirmation easily, Ms. Rice will likely hear questions from congressional Democrats about intelligence information used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Much of that information about the country's weapons of mass destruction turned out to be faulty, as did a line in the president's 2002 State of the Union Address about Iraq's attempt to buy uranium in Africa.

Ms. Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, ultimately took the blame for including that line in the president's speech. Mr. Hadley is now being promoted to National Security Adviser, which does not require confirmation.

Ms. Rice joined the Bush campaign in 2000 as senior foreign policy adviser after six years as provost of Stanford University in California where she administered an annual budget of $1.5 billion dollars.

She had been on the Stanford faculty as a political science professor since 1981 where she wrote about the re-unification of Germany and the fall of Soviet Russia.

At the end of the Cold War, the Russian-speaker served for two years as the Soviet specialist in the National Security Council of President George Herbert Walker Bush.

She earned her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Denver in 1974, a master's degree from Notre Dame in 1975, and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver in 1981.

Ms. Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in November of 1954. She is an accomplished figure skater and pianist. She is not married and says her dream job would be serving as the commissioner for the National football league.

President Bush says that job is beyond his power to grant, but he is glad she has put those plans on hold once again because the nation needs her.