Susan Rice Drops Out of Running for Secretary of State

The U.S. ambassador says she is "saddened by partisan politics" after her comments on the Benghazi attack.

Posted: 12/13/2012 03:53 PM EST
Susan Rice

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has decided that being nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state isn't worth the fight and has withdrawn herself from consideration.

“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama obtained by NBC News. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country...Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time."

Rice, who said she was saddened by the partisan politics that threatened her prospective nomination, was widely believed to be a top contender to succeed Clinton. But she also has been under intense fire from Republicans, both conservative and moderate, who've questioned her account of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Still others, on both the left and the right, questioned whether she possesses the temperament to serve as the nation's top diplomat.

"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," President Obama said in a statement. "The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country." 

Her withdrawal may pave the way for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who some political observers believe worked hard for and deserved the nomination more. He would sail through the Senate confirmation process, but nominating him does present a bit of a conundrum for Obama. Does he offer Kerry the position he's truly earned and risk losing a Democratic seat in the Senate?

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