Rice withdraws as secretary of state candidate
Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration to be the next US secretary of state.PT0M0S 620 349
WASHINGTON: Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration to be the next US secretary of state, after becoming a lightning rod for the White House's handling of the raid on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Ms Rice, currently the US envoy to the United Nations, is close to President Barack Obama and emerged as the top target of Republican attacks on the administration's handling of the attack on September 11.
The confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly, to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.Susan Rice
"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," Ms Rice said in a letter to Mr Obama.
Susan Rice ... attacks over Benghazi forced her withdrawal. Photo: AP
"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," Ms Rice wrote.
Mr Obama accepted her decision, first reported by NBC, in a telephone call with the UN envoy on Thursday and issued a statement condemning the "unfair and misleading attacks" on her.
"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," Mr Obama said.
"The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her calibre and character representing our country," Mr Obama said. Ms Rice would remain as UN ambassador with a place in his cabinet.
Republicans pounced on Ms Rice after she said on September 16 that the Benghazi attack was a "spontaneous" reaction to an anti-Muslim video, using CIA talking points she now admits were wrong.
Extremists linked to al-Qaeda are now blamed for the attack and Republicans charge the White House misled the US public as it did not want to own up to a terrorism attack weeks before the presidential election.
Ms Rice's move throws wide open the race to succeed Hillary Clinton, who has said she will not serve in Mr Obama's second term.
The Democratic senator John Kerry will now be seen as the hot favourite for the post, though officials say no announcements on Mr Obama's second term national security team are imminent.