U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has removed her name from consideration to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the White House revealed Thursday.
The move comes as Rice has faced the brunt of criticism from Republicans regarding the administration's handling of the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The attack on the consulate on September 11, 2012 resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Members of the GOP have attacked Rice for telling the Sunday talk shows that the Benghazi incident was the result of a spontaneous demonstration related to an anti-Islamic video rather than a terrorist attack.
President Barack Obama had strenuously defended Rice, claiming that she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that she had been provided and urging Republicans to focus their attacks on him instead.
In a statement on Thursday, Obama said Rice has "proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant."
"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, 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," he added.
Obama indicated that Rice would continue to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a key member of his cabinet and national security team.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was somewhat less collegial in his response to the news, calling the Republican attacks on Rice "shameful."
"Based on her impressive career and accomplishments as a Rhodes Scholar, a top official in the State Department and our Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Rice deserved far more respect than she was shown by certain Senate Republicans," Reid said in a statement.
He added, "Their behavior was a disgrace to the Senate's tradition of bipartisan cooperation on national security issues, and beneath the stature of senators with otherwise distinguished records on national security."
Republican Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., were among Rice's harshest critics.
With Rice's decision to remove her name from consideration, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is likely to be seen as the frontrunner to succeed Clinton.
by RTT Staff Writer
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