WASHINGTON (AFP) – A former senior US defense official touted as the most likely candidate to succeed Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief has taken herself out of the running, a source familiar with the situation told AFP on Tuesday.
Michele Flournoy, 53, was widely considered the frontrunner for the post of defence secretary and if confirmed would have been the first woman to hold the position.
But Flournoy, the former number-three-ranking official at the Pentagon, wrote to the board of the think tank she leads and founded, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), saying she would not be taking up the position.
“I can confirm she has written to the CNAS board informing them she has taken herself out of the running for the defense secretary’s job,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The reasons she cited for the decision were “family-related,” the source said.
The Foreign Policy website first broke the news.
Flournoy’s withdrawal presents a potential headache for President Barack Obama as he searches for a candidate that can gain acceptance from lawmakers from both parties.