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Susan Rice

“The decision to go back in was understandable,” Harris said, adding that in retrospect, he accepts that “the determination that influence was probably best achieved from inside rather than outside.”

Regarding the speech on settlements, leaders of Jewish groups said that Rice was reflecting the policy of the Obama administration, which later retreated considerably from its approach of publicly criticizing Israel over its settlement policy.

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If Obama nominates Rice, she would likely face opposition from Senate Republicans.

She has been under fire from Republicans since September, when she blitzed Sunday talk shows with what turned out to be misleading information prepared by intelligence agencies suggesting that a deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya began with a spontaneous protest.

Media reports have suggested Rice had been eager to go on the talk show circuit to defend the administration, which was facing strong criticism from Republicans over its handling of the attack and its public explanations of what happened.

President Obama has vigorously defended Rice, though he has not said whom he will nominate to succeed Clinton when she steps down early next year. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, also is considered a leading contender, while several other names of potential nominees have been cited in media reports.

Rice, 48, began her career as a youthful protégé of Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. Albright landed Rice an influential position on the National Security Council as Africa adviser.

(JTA)

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