U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice withdrew her name as President Obama’s leading candidate for secretary of state Thursday, saying the administration could not afford the “lengthy, disruptive and costly” confirmation process her Republican critics have promised.
Rice telephoned Obama on Thursday morning, prior to sending him a letter officially
withdrawing her name from consideration. The letter was crafted after
the decision was made this week, administration officials said.
Her withdrawal leaves Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as the leading
candidate for the job. A senior administration official said “something
strange would have to happen” for Kerry not to be the choice.
official also said that former Republican senator Chuck Hagel of
Nebraska has emerged as a “solid” candidate to run the Pentagon, though a
final decision has not been made. For the CIA, the official said, Obama
is deciding between acting director Michael J. Morell and deputy
national security adviser John Brennan, who has yet to tell the
president whether he would accept the job.
As Obama assembles his
second-term national security team, with announcements due as early as
next week, National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon, who has also
been mentioned as a State Department possibility, is likely to remain in
his current job, according to officials who spoke on condition of
anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.
Officials insisted that Rice’s decision to stand down was made by her
alone, and that the White House assessment was that she would have been
confirmed as secretary of state despite insistence by some GOP Senators
that they would oppose her and prevent her nomination from coming to a