Susan Rice will not replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. The U.N. ambassador withdrew her name from consideration for the high-level position Thursday.

“Today, I made the decision that it was the best thing for our country, for the American people that I not continue to be considered by the president for nomination of secretary of state,” Rice said in an interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams.

“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,” she said.

Rice has faced much criticism from Republicans for characterizing the deadly attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 as a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam film. Influential members of the GOP, including Sens. John McCain and Linsdsey Graham, had indicated they would block Rice’s confirmation if she were nominated by the president.

NBC News:

McCain and Graham, among Rice’s loudest critics, said they would continue to press the administration on Benghazi.

“I respect Ambassador Rice’s decision,” Graham said in a statement. “President Obama has many talented people to choose from to serve as our next secretary of state.”

The withdrawal leaves Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as a possible candidate for the job, and Republicans have said he would have a smoother run.

…Rice, 48, has been the United States’ permanent representative to the United Nations since 2009, after serving as a senior advisor to the Obama campaign, working at the Brookings Institution and holding other diplomatic and national security positions dating to 1993.

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