NEW YORK (TIP): Susan Rice withdrew from consideration for the secretary of State position on Thursday, December 13, citing Republican criticism of her record that had signaled a tough confirmation battle. In a letter to President Obama, Rice said she could have done the job “ably and effectively,” but added that “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 will continue as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In a statement, Obama praised Rice, while criticizing the “unfair and misleading attacks” on her by Senate Republicans and others over the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“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,” Obama said. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other Republicans had criticized Rice over a string of Sept. 16 television interviews in which she attributed the Benghazi attack to the protest over an anti-Islam video. Officials later said organized terrorists carried out the attack that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Rice also faced criticism for owning stocks in a Canadian energy company seeking State Department approval to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline in the United States. Others questioned her past support for controversial African leaders, such as Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Rice had been one of the leading contenders for the secretary of State slot soon to be vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.