National security adviser job possible
unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character,” he said.
“I am saddened we have reached this point,” Rice said.
Obama made clear she would remain in his inner circle, saying he was grateful she would stay as “our ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my Cabinet and national security team.” Rice, too, said in her letter she would be staying.
Rice had become the face of the administration’s struggles to explain what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, when four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed in what is now known to have been a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate.
Rice has conceded in private meetings with lawmakers that her initial account — that a spontaneous demonstration over an antiMuslim video produced in the U.S. triggered the attack — was wrong, but she has insisted she was not trying to mislead the American people. Information for her account was provided by intelligence officials.
In a letter to Obama, Rice said she was convinced the conffirmation process would be “lengthy, disruptive and costly.” The letter was part of a media rollout aimed at boosting her reputation. It included an NBC News interview in which she said her withdrawal “was the best thing for our country.”
Rice may end up as Obama’s national security adviser should Tom Donilon move on to another position, though that is not expected soon. The security adviser position would not require Senate conffirmation.
Rice would have faced strong opposition from Senate Republicans who challenged her com- ments about the Benghazi attack.
Her efforts to satisfy Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins in private sessions on Capitol Hill fell short. The Republicans emerged from the meetings still expressing doubts about her qualiffications.
“The position of secretary of state should never be politicized,” Rice said. “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.”
In a brief statement, a spokesman for McCain said the senator “thanks Ambassador Rice for her service to the country and wishes her well. He will continue to seek all the facts surrounding the attack on our consulate in Benghazi.”
Attention now shifts to Kerry, who came close to winning the presidency in 2004 and has been seen as desiring the State job. In a statement, he made no mention of his own candidacy but praised Rice, who was an adviser to him in his presidential bid.
Kerry was an early backer of Obama and was under consideration to become his ffirst secretary of state. Obama has dispatched Kerry to foreign hot spots on his behalf. Kerry played the role of Republican Mitt Romney during Obama’s presidential debate preparations this year.
The longtime senator would be almost certain to be easily conffirmed by his colleagues on Capitol Hill.
If Obama taps Kerry for State, the president will create a potential problem for Democrats by opening a Senate seat — one that recently defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown is eyeing. Brown had been elected as Massachusetts’ other senator in January 2010 after Democrat Ted Kennedy died, stunning the political world as he took the seat held by Kennedy for decades. Brown lost that seat in the November election.
Rice’s decision comes ahead of the anticipated release next week of a report by a panel into the attack on the Benghazi mission. The report ordered by Clinton, focuses on the run-up to and the actual attack and is not expected to mention Rice’s role in its aftermath.
Clinton is to testify about the report before Congress next Thursday.