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Carney Refuses To Deny Kerry Claim He Was Offered State Job Before Rice Withdrew

Jay Carney refuses to deny the claim from Sen. John Kerry that he was offered the position of Secretary of State before Susan Rice withdrew her name.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: John Kerry is quoted in the Boston Globe saying that the President offered him the job of Secretary of State a full week before Susan Rice pulled out. Is that timeline accurate?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I don’t have conversations to read out to you. What I can tell you is that -- two things. One, the President is very confident that now Secretary Kerry will be an excellent member of his Cabinet and will serve auspiciously in that position. He also believes that Ambassador Rice has done and will continue to do an excellent job on the President’s national security team as our representative to the United Nations, and that she could do any job in that field very ably, and that’s what he said at the time.

Ambassador Rice made the decision to withdraw from that process. At the time -- and we discussed it often back before you were in this chair, Jon, but I know you covered it from elsewhere -- the really absurd obsession for political purposes by critics on Capitol Hill on the talking points provided for appearances on a Sunday show with regards to the attack in Benghazi, that remains I think an unfortunate episode, one that will not reflect well on the Senate in the long run or on those who continue to press it.

The President is very glad that Ambassador Rice is continuing to serve in his Cabinet and on his team as our Ambassador to the United Nations.

KARL: The reason why I ask is he apparently -- Senator Kerry is -- soon-to-be Secretary Kerry is --

CARNEY: Moments away, I guess, yes.

KARL: -- is reading this out. I mean, he said the President called him a week before and he said -- this is Kerry, quoted, “He called me and said ‘You’re my choice. I want you to do this.’ He asked me to keep it quiet. I did, I sat on it.”

CARNEY: Again, I’m not going to --

KARL: Now, the reason why I ask is because you from that podium told us just two days before Rice pulled out that the decision had not been made, so I’m just trying to see who is right here, you or Kerry.

CARNEY: Well, I would simply say that I’m not going to read out specific conversations. I speak for the President, and the President, when he makes a decision, announces it. And that was the case.

KARL: Any concern that Kerry is kind of reading out a private conversation with the President?

CARNEY: No. The President is enormously gratified that Senator Kerry was confirmed by such a substantial margin by his former colleagues and looks forward to what he expects to be excellent service as the head of the State Department.

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