Susan Rice: Diplomat on the Rise Hits Turbulence

Will the controversy of the Benghazi attack derail Susan Rice's chances to become secretary of state?

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U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice (Spencer Platt/Getty Images News)

Longtime Washington observers question if President Barack Obama would risk engaging in a battle over appointing U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of state at a time when he needs to cut a deal with GOP leaders on the budget and taxes, according to the New York Times.

WASHINGTON — Susan E. Rice was playing stand-in on the morning of Sept. 16 when she appeared on five Sunday news programs, a few days after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would have been the White House's logical choice to discuss the chaotic events in the Middle East, but she was drained after a harrowing week, administration officials said. Even if she had not been consoling the families of those who died, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Mrs. Clinton typically steers clear of the Sunday shows.

So instead, Ms. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, delivered her now-infamous account of the episode. Reciting talking points supplied by intelligence agencies, she said that the Benghazi siege appeared to have been a spontaneous protest later hijacked by extremists, not a premeditated terrorist attack. Within days, Republicans in Congress were calling for her head.

In her sure-footed ascent of the foreign-policy ladder, Ms. Rice has rarely shrunk from a fight. But now that she appears poised to claim the top rung — White House aides say she is President Obama's favored candidate for secretary of state — this sharp-tongued, self-confident diplomat finds herself in the middle of a bitter feud in which she is largely a bystander.

Read more at the New York Times.

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