By Justin Sink - 12/14/12 12:33 AM EST
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said Thursday that she did not regret her Sunday talk show appearances in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attack, while acknowledging that the surrounding controversy forced her to withdraw from consideration for appointment as secretary of State.
"I don't regret doing it," Rice said during an interview with NBC News. "When you're a diplomat and a public official and a tragedy happens and it related to the work we do, it's our obligation to explain it as best we can to the American people."
In the initial interviews, Rice called the violence in Benghazi "a spontaneous reaction" following demonstrations against an anti-Islam video posted to YouTube that had swept throughout the Middle East. Reports made available later indicated that the violence, which left four Americans dead, was the result of a planned terrorist attack. Republicans have suggested Rice intentionally misled the public to protect the president politically in the weeks before the election.
"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 said.
Rice said that the president's second term priorities, including “comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation," outweighed her personal ambitions. She also said that she was "not a political person at my foundation."
"I just want to, as I have in academia, in think tanks, and two terms in this government try to do the right thing, and that's what I'm going to continue doing," Rice said.
But the embattled U.N. ambassador admitted that she had aspired to become secretary of State.
"I would have been very honored to serve in that job… How could you not in my field want to serve at the highest level?" Rice said.