By Alexander Bolton - 03/09/13 11:12 PM EST
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is rumored to be President Obama’s first choice to succeed Thomas Donilon as national security advisor.
The Washington Post, citing an administration official familiar with the president’s thinking, reported Saturday that Rice “has emerged as far and away the front-runner."
Rice was widely reported to be the Obama’s first choice for secretary of State, but withdrew her name after encountering strong Republican opposition led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Capitol Hill. She called the president in mid-December to take herself out of the running for the nation’s top diplomatic post.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who easily won Senate confirmation earlier this year, however, says he was always Obama’s first choice for the job.
“He called me, actually a week before Susan got out of the thing,” Kerry told The Boston Globe. “He called me and said, ‘You’re my choice. I want you to do this.’ He asked me to keep it quiet. I did. I sat on it.”
The national security adviser’s post would give Rice heavy influence over foreign policy decisions but would not require her to undergo Senate confirmation.
Senate Republicans are still hostile because of her initial characterization of the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, as a spontaneous response to an anti-Islamic video.
“We know that the story told by Susan Rice on 16th of September that the consulate was significantly, substantially and strongly secured has collapsed,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday.
“We know her story and the president's story that there was no evidence of an al Qaeda attack caused by a hateful video that led to a spontaneous riot has collapsed. We know that the story they told us for weeks after the attack no longer holds water,” Graham added.