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With Rice Withdrawing Name, Kerry Becomes Front-Runner for Secretary of State

There were also other doubts about her performance at the United Nations and on Africa policy during her tenure in the Clinton administration.

Rice’s critics were careful not to gloat after her letter became public.

“I respect Ambassador Rice’s decision,”Graham said in a written statement, adding that he still planned to get to the bottom of what happened before and after the Sept. 11 assault in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Ayotte’s statement echoed Graham’s nearly word for word.

“I respect Susan Rice’s decision and appreciate her commitment to public service. However, my concerns regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi go beyond any one individual,” she said.

Other Republicans also praised the decision.

“I think it was the correct thing to do, because she’s a person who has access and can get access to classified materials and she should have had those before she came out and made those comments,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah said. “You cannot have somebody as secretary of State who doesn’t understand that.”

Obama and other Democrats condemned the Republicans’ stonewalling of Rice as partisanship at its worst.

In a White House statement, the president called the attacks on Rice “unfair and misleading.”

“I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team,” he said in a written statement.

Durbin also said that Rice had been subject to “unwarranted criticism by Republicans.”

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