John Kerry, 69, has represented the northeastern state of Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for nearly 30 years. He is the current chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In his early life, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and then, in 1966, volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War. He served two tours of duty and was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts for combat injuries.
When he returned home, he began to speak out against the war. At 27, he testified before the same Senate committee he would one day lead, telling legislators that he and his fellow soldiers were fighting and dying because of bad decisions made by Washington. He memorably asked, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Kerry eventually returned to school and earned a law degree from Boston College, in 1976. As a public prosecutor in Massachusetts, he took on organized crime and gangsters and was a strong advocate for the rights of crime victims.
In 1982, he became the state’s lieutenant governor -- a post he held for two years before winning a seat in the U.S. Senate.
In 2004, Kerry won the Democratic Party presidential nomination but lost to President George W. Bush.
Over his 30-year congressional career, Kerry has become one of the most respected members of Congress and is considered a leading authority on national security and foreign relations issues.
He is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry – of the Heinz Ketchup family -- and has two daughters, three sons, and three grandchildren.