Obama has not told even close aides whether he will select Rice, according to a senior White House official. In a show of support, however, she was present Wednesday during Obama’s first full Cabinet meeting since the election. The president responded to a question about whether lawmakers are “being fair” to Rice by complimenting her as “extraordinary.” …

But with lawmakers potentially facing difficult votes on taxes or entitlements, confirmation could come at a high political cost for Obama and vulnerable Democrats facing reelection in 2014. …

The controversy surrounding Rice, a former management consultant who was an early supporter of Obama, has increased scrutiny of her personal affairs.

On Wednesday, a Web site run by the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council noted that Rice and her husband own millions of dollars worth of stock in Canadian energy and pipeline companies that would benefit from the construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline; if she became secretary of state, one of the first decisions she would have to make would probably involve Keystone’s permit.