A growing number of Republican senators are expressing skepticism about the possibility President Barack Obama could pick Susan Rice to replace Hilary Clinton as secretary of state for his second term.
Rice, currently the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is considered a leading contender to replace Clinton in the Obama administration. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is one of several members of his party in the Senate who have signaled opposition to the prospect of Rice being nominated for the role over remarks she made about the recent attack in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
During an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, McCain said, “Susan Rice should have known better, and if she didn’t know better, she’s not qualified,” adding, “I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States secretary of state.”
He continued, “She has proven that she either doesn’t understand or she is not willing to accept evidence on its face. There is no doubt five days later what this attack was and for.”
In September, Rice connected the Benghazi attack to a controversial anti-Muslim video, rather than regarding the fatal incident as a premeditated act of terrorism.
“How could we, knowing that our intelligence officials in Libya in real time while the event was taking place were letting our folks know back here that this was a terrorist attack — it’s beyond me that we would be out publicly talking about the event in that way,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on Tuesday, according to Foreign Policy. “It’s beyond belief.”
Foreign Policy reports:
Rice has explained that her comments were based on the intelligence community assessment at the time, but Corker said that is contradicted by the acknowledgment of senior officials that there was real-time reporting during the attack that clearly identified it as a terrorist attack, with no protest beforehand.
“I’m concerned about the fact that she went on Sunday shows and said it was the product of a spontaneous uprising as opposed to a terrorist attack,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on the matter, the Associated Press reports. “Why did they wait so long to publicly … change their position on it? I think she’d have to answer questions about that, no doubt about it.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during an appearance on CBS over the weekend, “I think Susan Rice would have an incredibly difficult time to get through the Senate,” explaining, “I would not vote for her unless there’s a tremendous opening up the information explaining herself in a way she has not yet done.” He added, “I’m not going to promote somebody who I think has misled the country or is either incompetent.”
On Wednesday the South Carolina senator said that he is “dead set against” the idea of Rice being the next secretary of state. He explained, “She is so disconnected from reality that I don’t trust her.”
NewsOK reports that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said “a poor record of leadership, management and judgment lead [him] to oppose Susan Rice as a possible nominee for the State Department.”
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) told The Hill that “obviously, there’s concern” about the possibility of Rice being tapped to serve as secretary of state. He explained, “And so before I jump, I want to do more examination.”
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Administration officials said that Rice, a pillar of Obama’s foreign policy team since the 2008 election campaign, was a leading candidate for the post, and that they would not be deterred by Republican warnings. Officials and some others familiar with the process predicted that the GOP would eventually end its resistance to Rice because it would become clear that her disputed comments after the attack were prepared by other U.S. officials for her appearances on Sept. 16 talk shows.
According to the Times, outgoing GOP Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona characterized Rice as “tainted” by her involvement in the White House’s response to the Sept. 11 Libya attack. He suggested Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — the other leading candidate to replace Clinton — would be a better choice.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who expressed opposition to a potential Rice nomination to Foreign Policy, predicted that Kerry would survive the Senate confirmation process should he be picked to replace Clinton, according to The Hill.