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Rice Starts Job As U.S. Secretary Of State

Rice during her nomination hearing (file photo) 27 January 2005 -- Condoleezza Rice starts her first day as U.S. secretary of state today.

Rice was sworn into office in a quiet ceremony late yesterday by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card shortly after the Senate confirmed her by a vote of 85 to 13. The vote was the largest "no" vote against any secretary of state nominee since 1825.

Senator Edward Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts) led opposition against Rice succeeding Colin Powell as the United States' chief foreign envoy. At a Senate floor debate, Kennedy criticized her for the situation in Iraq.

"Dr. Rice is the wrong choice for secretary of state. We need, instead, a secretary who's open to a clearer vision and a better strategy to stabilize Iraq, to work with the international community, and to bring our troops home with dignity and honor, and restore our lost respect in the world," Kennedy said. "The stakes are very high, and the challenge is vast. Dr. Rice failed record on Iraq makes her unqualified for promotion to secretary of state."

Rice served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush during his first four-year term.