President Barack Obama has accepted UN Ambassador Susan Rice's request to remove her name from secretary of state consideration.

Susan Rice was considered to be the President's first choice to replace Hillary Clinton, though Obama never formally submitted her name for Congressional approval. That approval process was shaping up to be a long, hard battle; lead by Sen. John McCain, several Republican lawmakers have spent the past few weeks questioning Rice's ability to do the job. In the most high profile of those attacks, McCain called Rice "not very bright."

NBC News has obtained the letter Rice sent to the president:

"If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities," Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama, saying she's saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects.

"That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country...Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time."

President Obama himself had looked prepared to go to bat for Rice, inviting Rice's opposers in a post-election conference to "go after me."

He released this statement this afternoon:

Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America's interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel's security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry now looks to be the front-runner for Obama's nomination. Some have, however, voiced concern about nominating Kerry: should he be chosen as the new secretary of state, a special election would be held to fill his Massachusetts Senate seat. Republican Scott Brown would likely seek to fill it, having just narrowly lost to Elizabeth Warren last month.

[Image via AP]