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UN Ambassador Susan Rice withdrawal sparks gender concerns on Cabinet

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Dec. 14 2012 4:18 p.m. MST

Some women in the Cabinet are expected to stay on for at least some of the second term, including Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Rice also will remain in the Cabinet as long as she stays in her post as the United Nations.

The controversy surrounding Rice centered on her assertion in Sunday talk shows that the attack in Libya was a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. Rice later acknowledged that was wrong, but she also said she was relying on an account that was provided by intelligence officials, who have since said their understanding of the attack evolved as more information came to light.

Republican lawmakers, led by Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, aggressively criticized Rice for her statements on Benghazi, calling her unqualified and untrustworthy. MCain said she was "not being very bright" in her comments.

That comment in particular provoked the ire of a dozen House Democratic women, who leapt to Rice's defense and accused McCain and Graham of being motivated by sexism and racism. Rice never publicly agreed with their assessment.

In the aftermath of her withdrawal, other Democratic women lamented that they hadn't done more to assist Rice as the criticism mounted.

"The thing about Susan Rice that really bothers me, the women's groups, the civil rights groups, we should have stood up more," said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, on MSNBC.

While Obama and others in the administration vigorously defended Rice, the White House never appointed a team to coordinate the administration's response to the criticism, in large part because Rice was not an official nominee.

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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