President Barack Obama nominated Friday Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts as his new secretary of state, succeeding Hillary Clinton.

"In a sense, John's entire life has prepared him for this role," Obama said at the White House with the nominee at his side.

The 69-year-old Kerry was the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 and currently chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The son of a diplomat, he spent much of his youth abroad and served with the U.S. military in Vietnam.

Obama said he believes the Senate will rapidly confirm Kerry's nomination, adding that as secretary of state he will have "great challenges" ahead of him.

Hillary Clinton did not attend the event because she is at home recovering from a concussion caused when she fainted last week, and is also suffering from a flu.

Obama said he spoke with her Friday on the phone, and that she is recovering and is in good spirits.

Clinton announced months ago that she would not continue as Obama's secretary of state during his second term because, she said, she wishes to rest and spend more time with her family.

Kerry's nomination is Obama's first pick to form a new Cabinet for his second term in office, which begins Jan. 20. EFE