Point, John McCain.
Susan Rice announced today that she has taken her name off the short list to be the next secretary of state. The embattled diplomat went public with the news in an interview with NBC News this afternoon after informing President Obama of her decision by letter.
"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," she told the president in her letter, which was obtained by the news network. "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."
The move represents a somewhat surprising end to Rice's time as the apparent front-runner to replace Secretary Hillary Clinton as head of the State Department when the former first lady steps down from her post. McCain and several of his fellow Senate Republicans had steadfastly vowed to do all they could to block Rice's confirmation, but there had been little to suggest that Obama would allow the GOP threats to force his hand, and the president had repeatedly voiced his unwavering support for Rice.
In a statement released shortly after the news broke, Obama said that he regretted the "unfair and misleading attacks" on Rice about her handling of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, and praised the U.N. ambassador's character. "[H]er decision demonstrates ... an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first," the president said. "The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country."
With Rice out of the picture, it would appear to greatly increase the chances that Sen. John Kerry lands his dream job. The Massachusetts lawmakers has long had his sights on leading the State Department. If Obama does tap him for a cabinet position, however, that would leave the door open for Republican Scott Brown to find his way back to the Senate by winning his second special election.
This post was last updated at 4:05 p.m. with additional details and analysis.