Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration as U.S. secretary of state on Thursday, citing a tough Senate confirmation battle she is looking to avoid.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a close confidante of President Barack Obama, said she was withdrawing from the process to avoid a lengthy, costly and disruptive confirmation battle.
“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,” she wrote in a letter to Obama.
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country,” Rice said.
Obama issued a statement saying he had accepted her decision and is grateful she will continue as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
“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.
“The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country,” Obama added, saying that Rice would remain as U.N. ambassador with a place in his cabinet.
Republicans pounced on Rice after she said on Sept. 16 that the Benghazi attack was a “spontaneous” reaction to an anti-Muslim video, using CIA talking points she now admits were wrong.
Extremists linked to al-Qaeda are now blamed for the attack and Republicans charge the White House misled the U.S. public as it did not want to own up to a terror attack weeks before the presidential election.
Rice’s move throws the race to succeed Hillary Clinton, who has said she will not serve in Obama’s second term, wide open.
Democratic Senator John Kerry will now be seen as the hot favorite for the post, though officials say no announcements on Obama’s second term national security team are imminent.