Susan Rice Explains Why She Dropped Out

In an interview late Thursday night after withdrawing from the running for Secretary of State — and in a new op-ed published overnight — Susan Rice insisted about the Benghazi conflict that ruined her future that "it's our obligation to try to explain it as best we can to the American people."

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Republicans threatening to block Susan Rice's confirmation as Secretary of State got what they wanted today when she withdrew herself from the running. In her first interview since withdrawing from the running for Secretary of State, Susan Rice told NBC's Brian Williams that she could no longer stomach the "very politicized, very distracting" bickering over her confirmation.

"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 told Williams, arguing that dragging out her confirmation hinder Obama's progress on issues like immigration, the deficit, and jobs going into his second term. "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."

Rice insists that throughout the heated three-month fight over her appointment, she didn't see herself as a political pawn. "I'm not a victim. I wasn't set up," she told Williams. "When you live through something like this, it's almost an out-of-body experience." She maintains what she's said all along—that her initial statements on Benghazi were based on the best intelligence at the time: "I don't think anybody is ever only blameless, but I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't mislead. I didn't misrepresent."

Rice's interview with Williams echoes many of the points she made in an op-ed that went live on The Washington Post's website tonight. She writes of the "baseless political attacks" that crushed her chances of being confirmed. Rice argues that such bickering at home undermines America's position abroad:

America is seriously weakened when politics come first. If any good can come out of the experience of the past few months, I hope that it will be a renewed focus on the business of the American people—and a renewed insistence that the process of selecting potential candidates for high national security office be treated in the best bipartisan traditions of our country.

As for her appearances on a slate of Sunday talk shows—which Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham focussed on in their charges that Rice misled Americans about what happened to the Benghazi consulate on September 11th—Rice told Williams she was glad to field questions in Hillary Clinton's stead. "It wasn't what I had planned for that weekend originally, but I don't regret doing that," she said. "When you're a diplomat and a public official and a tragedy happens, and it is related to the work that you do, it's our obligation to try to explain it as best we can to the American people."

When asked if she wanted the job of Secretary of State, Rice responded, "I would've been very honored to serve in that job ... How can you not want to, in my field, serve at the highest possible level?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.