Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is emerging as the favored candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, even with the political controversy over her remarks about the fatal Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Six current or former White House officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Rice remains close to President Barack Obama and shares many of his views on foreign policy. They emphasized that the president hasn’t made a final decision, and Clinton may remain in her post for some months into Obama’s second term.
Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and other officials said Obama’s first move will be choosing a successor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He also may need to find successors to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the officials said.
Rice is thought to be the president’s preferred choice over two other strong candidates, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry of Massachusetts and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, according to the current and former administration officials.