Rice fails to impress GOP senators

Nov. 27, 2012 at 2:04 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- After meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, three Republican critics offered additional doubt about her potential nomination as U.S. secretary of state.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and John McCain, R-Ariz., met with Rice and acting CIA Director Michael Morell in an hour-long, closed-door conference Tuesday morning, convened in part to convince the senators Rice was not responsible for providing misleading information on the Benghazi, Libya, consulate attack in September that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, the Washington newspaper Roll Call reported.

The senators, and other Republican critics, have focused on Rice's comments five days after the attack in which she said the assault on the consulate appeared to have been a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video production, The Hill reported.

The Obama administration has since called the attack an act of terrorism.

"Bottom line, I'm more disturbed now than I was before [by] the 16 September explanation about how Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, by Ambassador Rice," Graham said after he left the meeting.

"When you're in a position where you're ambassador to the United Nations, you go beyond unclassified talking points in your daily preparation and responsibilities for that job. That's troubling to me, why she wouldn't have asked [more questions]," Ayotte said.

McCain suggested, "With a little bit of inquiry and curiosity, I think it would have been pretty clear" Rice would have offered a different explanation.

Nonetheless, the three senators did not rule out affirming Rice as secretary of state, The Hill reported.

"Before anyone can make an intelligent decision about promoting someone involved in Benghazi, we need to go look through a lot more," Graham said.

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