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Kerry calls Rice 'dedicated public servant'

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December 13, 2012 05:39 PM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kerry says U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice "an extraordinarily capable and dedicated public servant."

The Massachusetts Democrat, now a front-runner for secretary of state after Rice bowed out on Thursday, issued a statement praising Rice and insisting that her decision doesn't change that. He noted that she'll continue serving in the Obama administration.

Kerry said he's all too familiar with political attacks and said he's felt for Rice these past few weeks.

He said he knows Rice will continue to serve with passion and distinction.

In the 2004 presidential race, Kerry was the subject of unsubstantiated claims by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group challenged his decorated Vietnam War record.