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Why Susan Rice is being targeted by Republicans (+video)

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, is on the short list to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But Sen. John McCain is leading a charge to keep Susan Rice from being nominated.

By Donna CassataAssociated Press / November 15, 2012


Washington

President Barack Obama lashed out at senior Republican senators Wednesday over their criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the aftermath of the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Libya, saying they should "go after me" and not her.

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Sen. John McCain had vowed shortly before Obama's remarks that he would take all steps necessary to block Rice's nomination if the president chooses her to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who plans to step down.

At issue are Rice's statements five days after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. She attributed the incident to the outrage in the Arab world over an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S., not terrorism.

The CIA-provided talking points that Rice drew from are posted on CBS News, including the following:

  • "The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who joined McCain at a news conference, said he didn't trust Rice.

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A feisty Obama defended his U.N. ambassador. "If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama told reporters at his first White House news conference since last week's election. "And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."

Within minutes, Graham's response made clear he wouldn't back down.

"Mr. President, don't think for one minute I don't hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi," the he said in a statement. "I think you failed as commander in chief before, during and after the attack.

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