WASHINGTON — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, the White House confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Rice, who has been under attack from Republicans for her statements in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, spoke with Obama Thursday and sent him a letter outlining her reasons for withdrawing her name for the post, saying she didn't want to distract Obama as he prepares to begin his second term.
"Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State," Obama said in a statement. "For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant."
“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, which first reported the news in conjunction with announcing an interview with Rice tonight.
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country," she continued. "Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time."
Senate Republicans led by Sen. John McCain had pledged a nasty confirmation process for Rice had she been selected. The front-runner for the job is now Sen. John Kerry, with Rice seen as a potential pick for National Security Adviser — a post not requiring Senate confirmation.
The Obama statement continues:
"As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. 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. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country."