Susan Rice

Battered by Benghazi, Rice withdraws as secretary of state candidate

by Dave Boyer-The Washington Times  |  published on December 14, 2012

Embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice withdrew her name Thursday from consideration to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton after months of criticism over her comments about the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

Although the decision had been building for weeks, Mrs. Rice’s request was a stunning setback for President Obama, who angrily defended her in a November news conference and challenged the Republican critics that “they should go after me” over the handling of the Benghazi attack. Mrs. Rice is a longtime senior adviser on foreign policy for the president and had been seen as a front-runner for Foggy Bottom in his second term.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others had criticized Mrs. Rice’s appearances on a series of Sunday talk shows after the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack, which she repeatedly characterized as a largely spontaneous response to an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. Several senators said they could not vote to confirm Mrs. Rice as secretary of state because of a lack of trust in her public statements.

Critics argued that the administration had ample evidence by the time the ambassador went on television that terrorists linked to al Qaeda were responsible for the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, another State Department employee and two security workers. Mrs. Rice and others in the administration said she was simply relaying information gleaned by U.S. intelligence services at the time.

“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,” Mrs. Rice wrote in her letter to Mr. Obama, saying she was saddened by the partisanship over her candidacy. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country. … Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”

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