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John Forbes Kerry

Kerry, John Forbes, 1943–, U.S. politician, b. Denver, grad. Yale, 1966, Boston College law school, 1976. A decorated navy veteran who served two tours in Vietnam after graduating from Yale, Kerry won national notice as an outspoken opponent of the war when he returned stateside. Entering politics in his home state of Massachusetts, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1972. After graduating from law school, he served as an assistant district attorney (1977–82) before becoming lieutenant governor of Massachusetts (1983–85). In 1984, Kerry was elected to the U.S. Senate; he was reelected four times. He chaired the Senate committee on small business from 2001 to 2003, and with Senator John McCain was instrumental in the the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo of Vietnam in the 1990s. An early favorite for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, he was initially eclipsed by Howard Dean but emerged as the frontrunner once the voting began, and he subsequently chose North Carolina senator John Edwards as his running mate. After the most expensive campaign in U.S. history to that point, the Democratic ticket lost to the incumbents, President G. W. Bush and Vice President Cheney, in the Nov., 2004. Kerry subsequently chaired the Senate small business and entrepreneurship (2007–9) and foreign relations (2009–13) committees. In 2013 he became secretary of state under President Obama.

See biography by M. Kranish et al. (2004); P. Alexander, The Candidate (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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