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Will Benghazi furor keep Susan Rice out of the White House?

• The Cable.ForeignPolicy.Com

Insiders with ties to the Obama administration tell The Cable that U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has become the heir apparent to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon -- a post at the epicenter of foreign-policy decision making and arguably more influential than secretary of state, a job for which she withdrew her candidacy last fall amid severe political pressure.

"It's definitely happening," a source who recently spoke with Rice told The Cable. "She is sure she is coming and so too her husband and closest friends."

"Susan is a very likely candidate to replace him whenever he would choose to leave," agreed Dennis Ross, a former special assistant to President Obama and counselor at the Washington Institute. "She is close to the president, has the credentials, and has a breadth of experience."

Both sources said the timing of succession was uncertain. "I don't believe Tom Donilon is about to leave but would be surprised if he were to remain for the whole second term," Ross said. "But in answer to your question, [Rice's appointment] is very logical."

Rice's candidacy for secretary of state imploded in November after she recited talking points about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi on five Sunday talk shows that turned out to be erroneous.

The question now is whether Benghazi's return to the spotlight will affect her potential appointment at a time when the White House is reeling from revelations about the IRS's scrutiny of conservative groups and the Justice Department's subpoena of the calling records of AP journalists.

For now, prominent Republicans don't seem inclined to make a fuss.

 

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