Susan Rice, the front-runner to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as U.S. secretary of state, dropped her bid for the post.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was caught up in a controversy over her explanation of the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.
"I didn’t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country, and the first several months of a second-term president’s agenda is really the opportunity to get the crucial things done," Rice told NBC in video released Thursday afternoon. "I much prefer to keep doing what I’m doing, which is a job I love at the United Nations.”
Clinton plans to retire next month.
Rice, relying at the time on intelligence briefings, claimed the Libya attack was spontaneous and sparked by an anti-Muslim film. Evidence has since emerged that it was a planned terrorist attack.
She had clashed at times with pro-Israel groups at the beginning of Obama's first term over the U.S. decision to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment, as well as her sharp condemnations of Israeli settlement expansion.
More recently, however, Rice earned pro-Israel plaudits, particularly for her tough resistance of Palestinian efforts to gain statehood recognition through the United Nations.