U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who dropped her bid to become Secretary of State on Dec. 13, is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at 3:30 p.m. EST on Friday.
The meeting may be compensation for Rice, who is close to the president both personally and politically. But it may also be the launchpad for her subsequent elevation to another job, such as National Security Adviser.
Rice’s decision to step aside before she was even nominated by the president is now being used by the administration to depict its critics as irresponsible and overly partisan.
“On Thursday I asked that President Obama no longer consider me for the job of secretary of state,” Rice said a Dec. 13 op-ed-in the Washington Post that likely was drafted in cooperation with administration officials.
“As it became clear that my potential nomination would spark an enduring partisan battle, I concluded that it would be wrong to allow this debate to continue distracting from urgent national priorities — creating jobs, growing our economy, addressing our deficit, reforming our immigration system and protecting our national security,” she claimed.
The news of her withdrawal led the evening television news shows on by CBS, NBC and ABC.
Her withdrawal leaves Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as the leading candidate for the post.
At least one White House official has said Rice could be appointed to the post of National Security Advisor, position that does not need approval from the Senate.
“She is going to go to the UN and down the road she could be Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, any number of things,” Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, told The Huffington Post.
The adviser job is now held by Tom Donilon, and was held by Condi Rice, another African-American woman, during President Geoege W. Bush’s term.
The unusual announcement about the Oval Office meeting came in the White House’s daily notice about the next day’s events. The notice is usually very brief, and rarely mentions meetings with administration officials other than Vice President Joe Biden, Clinton or defense officials.
White House officials — including the president — did little to boost Rice’s campaign for Clinton’s soon-to-be-available job, and stood by while she ran into a buzzsaw of Hill criticism.
Much of that criticism was aimed at Rice because of her role in the administration’s effort to to blame a California-based video-maker for the Sept. 11 jihadi attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed in the attacks on the poorly guarded and lightly fortified sites.
For two weeks after the attacks, Obama, Rice and other officials argued that the video’s anti-Islamist message prompted the rocket-and-machine-gun attack. But their claims were contradicted by U.S. survivors’ accounts, and instead spurred further controversy over the administration’s failed Middle East strategy.
“I have never sought in any way, shape or form to mislead the American people,” Rice said in her Washington Post op-ed.
During the election campaign, Obama switched claims to say he had always treated the attacks as jihadi terror strikes.
Establishment media outlets, especially CNN and CBS, aided the president’s mid-campaign backflip by downplaying evidence that contradicted his claims.