She said she was convinced the confirmation process would be “lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.”
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country,” Rice said.
Rice may end up close to Obama's side in another way, as his national security adviser should Tom Donilon move on to another position. The security adviser position would not require Senate confirmation.
Obama made clear she would remain in his inner circle, saying he was grateful she would stay as “our ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my Cabinet and national security team.” Rice, too, said in her letter she would be staying.
She would have faced strong opposition from Senate Republicans who challenged her much-maligned televised comments about the cause of the deadly raid on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Her efforts to satisfy Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins in unusual, private sessions on Capitol Hill fell short.
The Republicans emerged from the meetings still expressing doubts about her qualifications.
Support has been trending away from Rice for the past few days, according to a person familiar with the deliberations. That person spoke only on condition of anonymity, not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Attention now shifts to Kerry, who came close to winning the presidency in 2004 and has been seen as desiring the State job. In a statement, he made no mention of his own candidacy but praised Rice, who was an adviser to him his in his presidential bid.
Inhofe supports Rice's decision
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, who serves on the committee that holds hearings on State Department nominees, said, “Ambassador Rice's decision to remove her name from being considered for Secretary of State is best for the country.
“Her involvement in misleading the public on the Benghazi attacks was deeply troubling, and I continue to believe that this was a highly coordinated effort to cover up for the lack of requested security necessary to prevent this tragedy resulting in the deaths of four American public servants. I do, however, appreciate Ambassador Rice for maintaining our strong national security ties to important African nations like Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.
“I remain focused on helping the public get answers to what happened at our Benghazi consulate and see justice served for the four American lives lost. My hope is the official nominee for secretary of state will see the importance of thoroughly investigating this attack and strengthening our national security so this doesn't happen again.”