Rice quits top diplo­mat quest

She bows out as GOP sen­a­tors con­tin­ued to doubt qual­i­fi­ca­tions; Kerry now likely choice.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Feller and Julie Pace A ‘sad­dened’ Su­san Rice says she will stay on as am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions. Rice

WASHINGTON — Su­san Rice, the be­lea­guered U.N. am­bas­sador, with­drew from con­sid­er­a­tion to be the next sec­re­tary of state on Thurs­day af­ter a stand­ofi with Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who de­clared they would ffight to de­feat her nom­i­na­tion.

The an­nounce­ment makes Mas­sachusetts Sen. John Kerry the likely choice to be the na­tion’s next top diplo­mat when Hil­lary Clin­ton de­parts soon.

Rice with­drew when it be­came clear her po­lit­i­cal trou­bles were not go­ing away, and sup­port in­side the White House for her po­ten­tial nom­i­na­tion had been wan­ing in re­cent days, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said.

In an­other part of the up­com­ing Cab­i­net shake-up for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­ond term, former Repub­li­can Sen. Chuck Hagel of Ne­braska now is seen as the front-run­ner to be de­fense sec­re­tary, with of­fi­cial word ex­pected as soon as next week.

For the newly re-elected pres­i­dent, Rice’s with­drawal was a po­lit­i­cal set­back. When Rice an­nounced she was step­ping aside, Obama used the oc­ca­sion to crit­i­cize Repub­li­cans who were op­posed to her pos­si­ble nom­i­na­tion.

“While I deeply re­gret the

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