WASHINGTON - President Bush promoted his most trusted foreign policy adviser to Secretary of State on Tuesday, tapping Condoleezza Rice to replace warrior-turned-diplomat Colin Powell as part of a sweeping second-term Cabinet overhaul.
"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," Bush said of his national security adviser.
He thanked Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and national security adviser, for working "tirelessly and selflessly" on behalf of the country.
Rice is the second White House loyalist to land a Cabinet post since Bush's re-election triggered a top-tier shake-up that has presented several agency heads with the clear impression that their services were no longer needed. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales is Bush's nominee to replace Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Bush named Stephen Hadley, Rice's deputy, to replace her as national security adviser, the top White House-based foreign policy aide.
Rice, who is considered more of a foreign policy hard-liner than Powell, has been Bush's national security adviser for four years. 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.
"Under your leadership, America is fighting and winning the war on terror," Rice said to her boss during the Roosevelt Room announcement. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first black woman secretary of state.
Rice, raised in the segregated South, is an accomplished pianist and Russian scholar who Bush said was "taught that human dignity is a gift of God and that the ideals of America would overcome oppression."
Bush asked the Senate for quick confirmation. "The nation needs her," he said.
Besides Powell and Ashcroft, Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Venemen and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham resigned as Bush sought a fresh start for a second term.
Administration officials say Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson may be next. Officials close to Ridge say he may be willing to stay for a few months and advisers to Thompson hint that he may be open to another Cabinet post.
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. 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 Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that after Powell's exit was announced on Monday, his deputy, Richard Armitage, submitted his resignation to the White House. It's effective as soon as the next secretary of state is sworn into the position. "In together, out together," Boucher said of Armitage, a long-term colleague of Powell's.
There had been speculation that Powell, 67, would stay on, at least for part of Bush's second term, but he told reporters Monday that he had made no offer to do so.
Known for his moderate views and unblemished reputation, Powell went before the United Nations in February 2003 to sell Bush's argument for invading Iraq to skeptics abroad and at home. But Powell's case was built on faulty intelligence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Still, he remained the most popular member of the administration.
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, declined to answer questions about whether Bush asked Powell to step down, or tried to persuade him to stay.
Ivo Daalder, who served on President Clinton's National Security Council, suspects Powell was nudged out the door. "It was a surprise," he said. "He had been telling people that he wanted to stay."
Rumsfeld, traveling in Ecuador on Monday, told reporters he had not yet discussed his future with the president and would provide no hint as to whether he would continue with Bush's Cabinet, either for months or through the second term.
Besides Rice, Bush already picked White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to replace Ashcroft. Margaret Spellings, Bush's domestic policy adviser, is on the short list to replace Paige as education secretary.