Incoming Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Barack Obama offered him the job one week before U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice withdrew from contention.
"He called me, actually a week before Susan got out of the thing," he told The Boston Globe in an interview published Thursday. “He called me and said, ‘You’re my choice. I want you to do this.’ He asked me to keep it quiet. I did. I sat on it.”
Kerry's words counter conventional thinking that Rice was the top pick all along and that Kerry was offered the job only after Rice took her name off the list. His version of events, of course, puts him and Obama in a better light than if he was merely Obama's second choice.
Obama defended Rice against Republican critics who hammered her over Sunday show appearances after the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. She described the assault as retaliation for an anti-Muslim video, which reflected current intelligence thinking at the time.
Nevertheless, Rice withdrew from contention on Dec. 14 saying that her confirmation would be too "lengthy, disruptive and costly." The vast majority of Republicans embraced Kerry's confirmation.