On Thursday U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice dropped out of the running for Secretary of State. Rice requested that President Obama withdraw her name from consideration for the position because she faced fierce opposition from Republicans who questioned her reaction to the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Rice told NBC's Brian Williams that she was removing herself from the race, and wrote in a letter to Obama:
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 ... 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.
Obama said he accepted Rice's request, and said she was "an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant."
"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," Obama said in a statement.
Rice was harshly criticized for statements she made on several TV news programs following the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in September. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said after meeting with her they would block Rice's nomination, should Obama select her as his candidate.
In a press release following Rice's announcement, Graham said he respects the ambassador's decision to remove herself from consideration but will continue to investigate the terrorist attack:
When it comes to Benghazi, I am determined to find out what happened—before, during, and after the attack. Unfortunately, the White House and other agencies are stonewalling when it comes to providing the relevant information. I find this unacceptable.
Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she would step down at the end of her first term in January 2013. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's named has also been floated as a possibility to replace Clinton.
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