The 69-year-old Massachusetts lawmaker is expected to easily win confirmation if he is nominated. He would replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to retire next month.
"If he is nominated, he comes into the position with a world of knowledge. He's someone who certainly understands how the legislative process works, and I think he will be someone that Congress will want to work with in a very positive way," said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is poised to become the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee next year.
Kerry became a top candidate for the job last week when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice dropped out of consideration. He has flown to Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times to tamp down diplomatic disputes, spending hours drinking tea and taking walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai or engaging in delicate negotiations in Islamabad.
The five-term senator successfully ensured ratification of a nuclear arms reduction treaty in 2010 and most recently failed to persuade Republicans to back a U.N. pact on the rights of the disabled.
Throughout this past election year, Kerry skewered Mr. Obama's Republican rival, Mitt Romney, at nearly every opportunity and was a vocal booster for the president's re-election. Kerry memorably told delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August: "Ask Osama bin Laden if he's better off now than he was four years ago."
The president is also considering one of Kerry's former Senate colleagues, Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.