- (Photo: REUTERS)
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She says Republican criticism – mostly unfounded – was the reason she will not risk a volatile Senate confirmation process.
"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 said in a letter to President Obama.
Obama never officially submitted the Stanford University and Oxford educated diplomat's name for the top State Department job. However, her dismal performance when discussing the Sept. 11 attacks in Libya that left a U.S. Ambassador and three others dead virtually made her nomination a next-to-impossible task.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Obama indicated Rice would continue serving the administration in a second term.
"Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant.
"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."
The furor over Rice began on Sept. 16 when she appeared on a number of news shows and blamed what have now proven to be premeditated terrorist attacks on an amateur video that insulted Muslims.
Leading Senators such as John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) expressed disappointment in how the administration handled the issue and said in blunt terms that Rice would face an uphill climb in Senate confirmation hearings if the president formally submitted her name.
With Rice no longer an option to replace Clinton, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska are viewed as frontrunners for the powerful post. However, if Rice does not stay as U.N. ambassador, she could be appointed Obama's next pick for national security adviser since that post does not require Senate confirmation.
Secretary of State Clinton is expected to testify on how the administration mishandled the Libya attacks in front of a Congressional committee later this month.