U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, dropped her bid to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State Thursday, in the face of strong opposition from Republican lawmakers over her handling of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi and reported financial ties to Iran.
In a letter to President Obama, Ambassador Rice said she concluded that “the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. The tradeoff is simply not worth it to our country,” reports the New York Times.
The president accepted her decision with regret, describing her as “an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant.”
Ambassador Rice had come under fire by Republicans for launching a media campaign immediately after the September 11 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya that laid blame on a protest against an anti-Islamic video that spun out of control. It was later revealed the CIA knew the attack, which killed four Americans including ambassador Chris Stevens, was a terrorist assault launched by Al Queda.
Ambassador Rice later acknowledged she has misspoken, putting blame on information given to her by the CIA.
It was later revealed Ambassador Rice has several large investments with Iranian energy companies totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“That Susan Rice invested in companies doing business in Iran shows either the Obama administration’s lack of seriousness regarding Iran or Rice’s own immorality,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. “Either way, her actions undercut her ability to demand our allies unity on Iran.”
Ambassador Rice’s departure from the contest makes Massachusetts senator John Kerry the odds-on favorite to be the next Secretary of State. The Chicago-Sun Times reported on December 2 that current Secretary Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down at the end of the month, prefers Senator Kerry as a replacement. Senate Republicans will confirm Senator Kerry for the job, reports the Washington Examiner.
Arizona Senator John McCain, a leading Republican who is also the Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, hinted during a December 3 news conference that some deal had been made for Kerry to become the next Secretary, or at least expressed his preference, when he referred to the Massachusetts senator as “Mr. Secretary.”
Senator Kerry is also favored among Jewish voters, reports Gestetner Updates, for his “independent” views on foreign policy, as well as his strongly pro-Israel voting record. Joel Rubin, director of policy and government affairs for the Ploughshares Fund, praised Senator Kerry as a “global leader” whose “track record is second to none.”
Should Senator Kerry become the next Secretary of State, a special election will have to be held for his seat. This would allow for Scott Brown, a moderate Republican who lost his Senate seat to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, another chance to run. It is likely Democrats will put up token opposition against Brown.