- Susan Rice, the embattled U.N. ambassador, abruptly withdrew Thursday from consideration to be the next secretary of state after a bitter, weekslong standoff with Republican senators who declared that they would fight to defeat her nomination.

The reluctant announcement makes Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry the likely choice to be the nation's next top diplomat when Hillary Rodham Clinton departs soon. Rice withdrew when it became clear her political troubles were not going away, and support inside the White House for her potential nomination had been waning in recent days, administration officials said.

If Obama taps Kerry for the position, Obama will create a potential problem for Democrats by opening a Senate seat - one that recently defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown is eyeing.

- Associated Press