Hardball with Chris Matthews, 12/13/12, 7:00 PM ET

Susan Rice withdraws name from consideration for Secretary of State

Chris Matthews talks to NBC’s Chuck Todd, the Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson, and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell about the breaking news that Amb. Susan Rice...

With Rice out, is Kerry in?

Updated

Susan Rice is out. Does that mean John Kerry is in?

The U.N. ambassador, a top contender to take Hillary Clinton’s secretary of state post, made big news on Thursday by withdrawing her name from consideration. She made the decision after coming under continuing fire from GOPers who criticized her for her remarks following the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Now the attention turns to Massachusetts Sen. Kerry, who was also being eyed for job.

“Barring something completely unforeseen, I think John Kerry is going to be nominated, and I cannot imagine him not being confirmed,” Andrea Mitchell, NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent, told Hardball host Chris Matthews on Thursday evening, saying the confirmation process would likely be “quick and easy.”

NBC News’ chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd added that there’s a feeling among pragmatists that Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, earned and deserves the post.

There’s also sentiment among foreign policy politicos that “secretary of state should be somebody who almost was president. The heft of a Hillary Clinton being replaced by the heft of a person who was a football stadium away from being president himself–that will impress people that this secretary of state has to sit down with, foreign leaders around the world,” said Todd.

Todd noted that earlier reports saying former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is frontrunner to become the next Secretary of Defense may now be thrown in the air. Obama might want to diversify his cabinet rather than putting another white man in the Defense job. Todd said he wouldn’t be surprised if Obama looks again at prominent women candidates like Michele Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy.

Kerry released a statement after Rice’s exit, saying she was  “an extraordinary capable and dedicated public servant. Today’s announcement doesn’t change any of that.” Kerry added that he’s “felt for her throughout these last difficult weeks” as she’s come under Republican attacks.

Matthews praised Kerry’s “grace under pressure” and said he  “could end up a fabulous secretary of state, somebody to make this country truly proud.”

With Rice out, is Kerry in?

Updated