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Susan Rice, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, National Security Adviser

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The White House

Susan Rice, National Security Adviser

News that United Nations Ambassador Rice would replace retiring Tom Donilon as national security adviser in early July came as no surprise. Rice, 48, sits squarely within Obama's inner circle—and this post doesn't require Senate confirmation. (She withdrew from consideration as secretary of State in December because of congressional Republicans' furor over her public statements about the Benghazi, Libya, attack.) A D.C. native, Rice earned a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, where she got her master's and Ph.D. In her new assignment, Rice chairs the Cabinet-level National Security Council Principals Committee. She must provide the president's daily national security briefing and coordinate the administration's foreign policy, military, and intelligence efforts. Rice, who has worked on campaigns for both John Kerry and Obama, has considerable government experience, including serving as assistant secretary of State for African affairs from 1997 to 2001 and the NSC's lead Africa expert. "She's a known quantity. Everyone understands how close she is to the president, which is a big advantage," one former State Department official said. "She's very good at seeing both the forest and the trees, the intricacies of a negotiation—as well as being able to step back and say, 'OK, where are we going?' That's a very Obamaesque thing to do."

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