WASHINGTON — President Bush on Tuesday nominated his most trusted foreign policy adviser to become secretary of state, tapping Condoleezza Rice to replace warrior-turned-diplomat Colin Powell as part of a sweeping second-term Cabinet overhaul.
“During the last four years I’ve relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment," Bush said in a ceremony at the White House.
“The secretary of state is America’s face to the world and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, grace and decency of our country,” the president said.
Several sources told NBC News that they expect the departure of a large number of State Department moderates who, like Powell, sometimes clashed with more hawkish administration officials such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Rumsfeld said he has a close working relationship with Rice, describing her as "an enormous talent. She is experienced, very bright and as you all know has a terrific relationship with the president, which I think is a very valuable thing."
Rice, who is considered more of a foreign policy hard-liner than Powell, has been Bush’s national security adviser for four years and spends more time with the president than any other official except White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
But while she’s known around the globe, her image on the world stage does not rival Powell’s. The retired four-star general has higher popularity ratings than the president.
Video: Rice's new role Rice, 50, worked at the National Security Council in former President Bush’s White House and went on to be provost of Stanford University in California before working in the current president’s 2000 campaign.
She was widely considered the president’s first choice for the top diplomat’s job, despite reports that she intended to return to California or was hoping to replace Rumsfeld should he wish to step down.
The Senate must confirm the president’s Cabinet choices. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is trying to arrange a confirmation hearing in early December, an aide to Lugar said Tuesday.
The president said Stephen Hadley, his deputy national security adviser, would replace Rice as national security adviser.
Other political news of note
Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'
- Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
- Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
- Obama faces Syria standstill
- Fluke files to run in California
- Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'
Hadley served as senior foreign and defense policy adviser to Bush when he first ran for president. Before that, he was a partner in the Washington law firm of Shea & Gardner and a principal in the Scowcroft Group, an international consulting firm. Hadley also has been assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.
Bush hails Powell
Bush issued a statement Monday calling Powell, a retired four-star Army general and former chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, “one of the great public servants of our time.”
In his resignation letter , Powell, 67, said, “I believe that now that the election is over, the time has come for me to step down as secretary of state and return to private life.”
At a brief news conference, Powell said he would stay “a month or two” until a successor was confirmed by Congress.
As for his lame-duck status, Powell noted that Bush had made it clear that he continues to operate with the president’s full authority.
“I think that will be recognized by the people that I deal with around the world. ... I think I’ll be quite effective for the remaining period of my term,” Powell said. “I would expect to act fully as secretary of state until the day that I do leave.”
Powell’s deputy, Richard Armitage, also handed in his resignation, State Department sources said Tuesday. Spokesman Richard Boucher on Monday told reporters that Powell and Armitage had always been a team with an understanding: “in together, out together.”
Video: Changing Cabinet The other members of Bush’s 15-member Bush Cabinet whose departures were announced Monday were Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that no nominations for the departing Cabinet members would be announced Monday.
Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced their resignations last week. Bush has so far moved to fill just one vacancy, nominating White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to succeed Ashcroft.
It is not unusual for second-term presidents to see Cabinet changes, and Bush said soon after securing re-election that he expected some resignations because of “burnout.”
Powell has had a controversial tenure, reportedly differing on some key issues with Rumsfeld, who said Monday that he had “enjoyed working” with Powell.
Powell’s standing was strained by the U.S.-led war in Iraq — he led the Bush administration’s argument at the United Nations for a military attack to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein — but Powell he has generally had good relations with his counterparts around the world.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he helped fashion a fragile coalition of countries for the war against terrorism, careful to request all the help a country could give without pushing any country beyond its limits. Similarly, when leaders decided to end or shorten their troops’ duty in postwar Iraq, the State Department avoided any harsh reaction, saying simply that it was up to each country to make up its mind.
Powell intends to maintain a busy schedule until a successor is named, aides said. He met Monday with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and was to attend a meeting of Pacific nation ministers Wednesday in Chile before heading to a multinational conference on Iraq next week.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Tammy Kupperman and Norah O’Donnell; the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.