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[Newsmaker] Obama taps Rice as national security adviser

Susan Rice
Susan Rice
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who became a target of Republican vitriol over U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, is moving into the post of White House National Security Adviser.

President Obama announced a major reshuffling of his national security team on Wednesday, ushering out Tom Donilon, a cautious Washington insider, and elevating Rice, a longtime proponent for expanding the U.S. role in protecting human rights and preventing humanitarian crises.

Samantha Power, another Obama adviser, will take over as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Donilon has been the administration’s biggest champion for reorienting U.S. foreign policy toward the fast-growing economies of Asia, an initiative typified by this weekend’s summit meeting between Obama and the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Obama’s second-term foreign policy has been preoccupied with groping toward an end game in Afghanistan and debate over whether to better arm rebel groups fighting to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

“I am absolutely thrilled that she’ll be back at my side leading my national security team in my second term,” Obama said of Rice during a White House event on Wednesday to announce the appointment.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled to serve our country as your national security adviser,” Rice said at the White House event.

Before her job as U.N. ambassador, she was assistant secretary of state for Africa during the Clinton administration. Rice was among the first national security figures to join the Obama campaign in 2007. She led Obama’s national security team during the campaign and the transition in 2008. Few others in the administration are as close to the president as she is.

Rice, 48, was a three-sport athlete, student council president, and valedictorian at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., a private girls’ day school. She graduated from Stanford University on a Truman Scholarship and attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

By Philip Iglauer (ephilip2011@heraldcorp.com)
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