Obama decided that political capital better spent elsewhere than on battle over Rice
President Obama decided in the end that the time and political capital necessary to secure the nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice as his next secretary of state would be better spent elsewhere.
Rice was in the running to replace current Hillary Clinton who will step down from her post in January. However, she withdrew her name from consideration for the top post Thursday after informing administration officials the previous evening of her intent to do so.
But Obama, who pledged to defend her vigorously just few weeks ago, did simply accept her decision to withdraw.
Obama said in a statement: “Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State.”
The statement was indeed served as an acknowledgment that even a president fresh from reelection has only a limited amount of political latitude in a still-sharply partisan Washington.
As for the famous sharp tongued Rice, it took her no time to appear on social media and rant over her Republican critics.
“Those of you who know me know that I’m a fighter, …” Rice wrote on her Twitter.
She further sent a piece for Washington Post to further explain her decision to withdraw as well as defend herself by writing: “I have never sought in any way, shape or form to mislead the American people. … Even before I was nominated for any new position, a steady drip of manufactured charges painted a wholly false picture of me.“
After her Thursday announcement, the two Republican members of Congress who had fiercely opposed her potential nomination reacted quickly.
A spokesperson for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote, “Senator McCain 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 that killed four brave Americans.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted, “I respect Ambassador Rice’s decision. President Obama has many talented people to choose from to serve as our next secretary of state.”
The working assumption among some well-connected members of Washington’s foreign-policy community is that, in the end, Obama will nominate John Kerry, the easily confirmable chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for State; pick Susan Rice to replace Tom Donilon as his National Security adviser, a post that doesn’t require Senate confirmation; and move Tom Donilon over to the State Department as Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff.
Sources from ABC News also confirms that even before Rice withdrew her name from consideration to be secretary of state earlier today, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had emerged as the leading contender.
If Rice had been nominated, for instance, she would have faced criticism from religious leaders about her role in the Clinton administration’s handling of the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN that Rice’s decision was “probably for the best.”