Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice congratulate Kerry on State nomination

The secretary of State went on to credit Kerry for helping the Obama administration "undertake delicate diplomatic missions and to deliver difficult messages."

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"Through it all, Senator Kerry has fought for our nation’s diplomats and development experts — and for investing in their mission and America’s global leadership," Clinton said.

Clinton also said that Kerry had already begun working with Clinton to respond to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stephens, in September.

"He is working closely with me and my team to learn the lessons of the tragedy in Benghazi, further protect our people and posts, and implement every single one of the Accountability Review Board’s recommendations," Clinton said.

It was the fallout from Benghazi — and specifically Rice's comments in the immediate aftermath — that likely paved the way for Kerry's nomination.

Rice had drawn scrutiny from Senate Republicans, who suggested she might have deliberately misled the American public when she suggested that the September terrorist attack appeared to have stemmed from a protest over an anti-Islam YouTube video. Last week, she removed her name from consideration for the post.

In a statement Friday, Rice said "America is fortunate" that Kerry had been nominated.

"I have been honored to work with him in the past, and I look forward to working closely with him again on President Obama's national security team," Rice said, praising Kerry's "selfless commitment to our country."

Rice also offered praise for Clinton, calling her tenure leading the State Department "exemplary."

"I admire her enormously and greatly appreciate her support and partnership as a valued colleague," Rice said. "Our nation owes Secretary Clinton an enduring debt of gratitude for her many years of outstanding public service."

And Rice even hinted at a possible future in political life for Clinton, who has been widely thought to be considering a 2016 presidential bid.

"I look forward to witnessing the next chapter in her remarkable story," Rice said.