Paging John Kerry: Susan Rice is withdrawing her name from consideration to be the next secretary of state, reports NBC News. The move makes Senator Kerry the leading candidate to replace Hillary Clinton. Rice, the current US ambassador to the UN, has been on the defensive over her initial comments in the wake of the Benghazi attack, with critics accusing her of trying to downplay any link to terrorism.
“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,” Rice wrote to President Obama. (Full text via Politico here.) “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." Obama accepted her decision but criticized what he termed the "unfair and misleading attacks against her," reports the Wall Street Journal. It might not have helped Rice's case on Capitol Hill that she has the reputation of being an "undiplomatic diplomat." (Read more Susan Rice stories.)