Susan Rice, the embattled UN ambassador, has abruptly withdrawn from consideration to be the next US secretary of state after an ugly stand-off with Republican senators who declared they would vigorously oppose her nomination.
"While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character," he said.
Rice had become the public face of the tangled administration description of what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 when four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, were killed in what is now known to have been a terrorist attack.
Rice withdrew her name in a letter to the president, saying she was convinced the confirmation process would be "lengthy, disruptive and costly - to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities."
"That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country," Rice said.