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Susan Rice fails to charm GOP senators (+video)

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice met with Republican senators Wednesday, in an effort to diffuse criticisms surrounding her possible nomination for secretary of state. But even moderate senators walked away vowing to block the nomination.

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Obama should nominate Rice if he feels she is the best choice, said Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense, now at the liberal Center for American Progress.

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He predicted she would win confirmation, given that the main objection to her was over a political point that Republican Mitt Romney tried to feature in his failed presidential campaign this year.

"The Republicans are desperate for an issue," Korb said. "She's not the issue. The issue is that they want to undermine his (foreign policy) narrative."

PLAYING POLITICS?

Sticking with Rice could also be a potent demonstration of strength for Obama, Korb said, reminiscent of Republican President Ronald Reagan. Reagan, who is revered by his party, won points for winning the confirmation of Al Haig as secretary of state in 1981, despite objections to Haig's ties to the Watergate scandal, he noted.

Some observers have speculated that the Republicans would prefer that Obama nominate Senator John Kerry, leaving the door open for a Republican to win his vacated Massachusetts seat and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate.

"I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and will be easily confirmed by his colleagues," Collins told reporters.

Collins said the United States seemed not to have learned lessons from the bombings of the embassies in Kenyaand Tanzania in 1998, when Rice was the State Department's Africa region head.

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