Susan Rice Withdraws for Secretary of State Nomination

After months of criticism from Republicans, U.N. envoy Susan Rice has dropped out of the running for the nomination for Secretary of State, leaving the door wide open perhaps for Senator John Kerry to be the first in line for the nomination. Rice was facing  “relentless opposition from Republicans in Congress over her role in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya.”

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Rice said:

Today, I made the decision that it was the best thing for our country, for the American people that I not continue to be considered by the president for nomination of secretary of state. I didn’t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country and the first several months of a second term president’s agenda is really the opportunity to get the crucial things done.”

Rice also noted that “President Obama’s second-term agenda included “comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation.””

She added, “And to the extent that my nomination could have delayed or distracted or deflected or maybe even some of these priorities impossible to achieve, I didn’t want that and I much prefer to keep doing what I’m doing which is a job I love at the United Nations.”

In a statement, President Obama said he accepted Rice’s decision but he regretted “the unfair and misleading attacks” on her.

And, Senator John Kerry said in a statement tonight upon word of Rice’s withdrawal:

“I’ve known and worked closely with Susan Rice not just at the UN, but in my own campaign for President. I’ve defended her publicly and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again because I know her character and I know her commitment. She’s an extraordinarily capable and dedicated public servant. Today’s announcement doesn’t change any of that. We should all be grateful that she will continue to serve and contribute at the highest level. As someone who has weathered my share of political attacks and understands on a personal level just how difficult politics can be, I’ve felt for her throughout these last difficult weeks, but I also know that she will continue to serve with great passion and distinction.”

Republicans in Congress have already alluded to their interest in seeing Senator John Kerry get the nod for State although there had also been some mention of Kerry being nominated for Secretary of Defense instead of State.

But, Bloomberg reports tonight that “former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has emerged as the leading candidate to become President Barack Obama’s next secretary of defense and may be nominated as soon as this month, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

While serving in the Senate, “Hagel’s committee assignments included Foreign Relations and the Select Committee on Intelligence.”

A copy of Rice’s letter to President Obama withdrawing from consideration for the nomination as Secretary of State is available here and President Obama’s full statement is available here.

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