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Bush picks Rice to succeed Powell

Condoleezza Rice speaks to reporters Tuesday after President Bush announced that she was his nominee for secretary of state.
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Condoleezza Rice is in line to make history as Colin Powell's successor.

CNN's John King on Colin Powell's legacy.

Colin Powell sometimes seemed like an outsider in the Cabinet.
Condoleezza Rice
Colin Powell

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday nominated Condoleezza Rice, his confidante and national security adviser, as secretary of state.

She will succeed Colin Powell, who announced his resignation Monday.

"During the last four years I have relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment," Bush said in a ceremony in the White House Roosevelt Room.

Bush said he was honored that she agreed to take the post.

"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," he said.

Bush said that Rice's deputy, Steve Hadley, would succeed her as national security adviser.

Rice said it had been a privilege to work for Bush during his first term.

"I look forward, with the consent of the Senate, to pursuing your hopeful and ambitious agenda as secretary of state," she said.

She also praised Powell.

"It is humbling to imagine succeeding my dear friend and mentor Colin Powell. He is one of the finest public servants our nation has ever produced," she said. "Colin Powell has been a great and inspirational secretary of state. It was my honor to serve alongside him, and he will be missed."

If confirmed, Rice, who turned 50 on Sunday, would be the first black woman, and only the second woman ever, chosen as the nation's top diplomat. (Rice nomination would make history)

A modern-day renaissance woman who traded the stately halls of Stanford University for the political swirl of Washington, Rice became one of Bush's most trusted wartime advisers. (Hopes, fears for Rice appointment)

The secretary of state is fourth in line to succeed the president.

In the continuing shake-up, Powell's longtime friend, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, submitted his letter of resignation Monday, his office told CNN Tuesday.

Rice's nomination is among a host of personnel changes in the Bush administration.

Powell is the most prominent of four Cabinet officials whose resignations were announced Monday by the White House.

"Now that the election is over," Powell's letter to the president reads, "the time has come for me to step down as secretary of state and return to private life. I, therefore, resign as the 65th secretary of state, effective at your pleasure."

The other resignations announced Monday were Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

On Tuesday, two senior administration officials told CNN that Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge also will leave his Cabinet post, but the White House would not confirm the report. (Full story)

Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the department, said the report was "news to us."

Roehrkasse said Ridge has not made any decisions about his future and at this time there have not been any discussions with the White House.

Powell told reporters Monday that he "will always treasure the four years that I have spent with President Bush and with the wonderful men and women of the Department of State."

"I think we've accomplished a great deal."

Powell, after announcing his resignation, was praised Monday as a "great statesman" and a "voice of moderation." (Powell praised)

One of Powell's best-known moments as secretary of state was his speech last year to the U.N. Security Council in which he made a case for invading Iraq.

He said that Saddam Hussein was still developing weapons of mass destruction despite years of U.N. disarmament demands. Those claims about Iraq weaponry were never borne out.

CNN's John King, Andrea Koppel, Suzanne Malveaux and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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