WASHINGTON (AP) — Susan Rice, the embattled U.N. ambassador, abruptly withdrew from consideration to be the next secretary of state on Thursday after an ugly standoff with Republican senators who declared they would vigorously oppose her nomination.
The move elevates Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as the likely choice to be the nation’s next top diplomat when Hillary Rodham Clinton departs soon.
President Barack Obama accepted Rice’s decision with a shot at Republicans. “While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character,” he said.
Rice had become the public face of the tangled administration description of what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 of this year when four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed in what is now known to have been a terrorist attack.
Rice withdrew her name in a letter to the president, saying she was convinced 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,” Rice said.
Following is the text of Rice's letter to Obama:
It has been and remains my highest professional privilege to serve as your United Nations ambassador. I am deeply grateful for your steadfast support for all we do at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and for my dedicated colleagues. Your vision and leadership have enabled the U.S. to restore our global standing, strengthen our national security, repair our relationship with the United Nations, and advance U.S. interests and values. I am proud of the many U.S. successes at the United Nations, including the protection of civilians from Libya to Cote D’Ivoire, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and increasing international pressure on Iran and North Korea through the toughest sanctions ever, our unwavering support for Israel, our contribution to the birth of the world’s newest state, South Sudan, accelerating U.N. reform, and our bold defense of the equal rights of all human beings regardless of their race, religion, economic status or whom they love. I look forward to building on this major progress in your second term.
I am highly honored to be considered by you for appointment as secretary of state. I am fully confident that I could serve our country ably and effectively in that role. However, 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. It is far more important that we devote precious legislative hours and energy to enacting your core goals, including comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation, and maintaining a robust national defense and effective U.S. global leadership. Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.
The position of secretary of state should never be politicized. As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship and as a sitting U.S. national security official who has served in two U.S. administrations, I am saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people.
I am grateful, as always, for your unwavering confidence in me and, especially, for your extraordinary personal support during these past several weeks. I look forward to continuing to serve you and our great country with enthusiasm and pride as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and as a member of your Cabinet and National Security Council.