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“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 in a letter to President Obama, saying she’s saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects. “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,” she wrote in the letter obtained by NBC News. [Brian Williams exclusive, Rock Center]

IT WASN’T Benghazi and the swiftboating efforts of Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham that did Ambassador Rice’s nomination in, but they got the train rolling.  The real trouble came through the peeling back of her complicated political history and alliances in Africa, as well as her financial entanglements environmentally, which revealed she was the wrong person to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Piled on top of the initial firestorm that also came with eviscerating reviews of interactions from within the diplomatic community, which establishment media exploited, President Obama and Ambassador Rice found a graceful exit before an explosive confirmation hearing that Republicans had already hinted would be scorching took her out in an embarrassing political circus.

As I’ve already written, Senator John Kerry remains the best pick for secretary of state after Clinton, with the way clear for this to happen now.

Statement by the President Obama on Ambassador Rice

Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.

There are also solid reports that former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is being considered the top candidate for Secretary of Defense, a stellar choice in my estimation.