Leading members of the U.S. Senate are saying they expect Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice to gain easy confirmation.

The Senate's Republican whip (second-ranking member) Mitch McConnell says he thinks Ms. Rice, the outgoing national security advisor, could face tough questions during her confirmation hearings. However, he and newly elected Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid predict her nomination will be approved.

On Tuesday, President Bush nominated the 50-year-old former academic to succeed Colin Powell, whose resignation was announced one day earlier. In his announcement at the White House, the president said Ms. Rice is the right person to handle foreign policy challenges that include the war on terror and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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

The president also said he is appointing Ms. Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, to replace her as national security advisor.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.