Yesterday, Republican Senators John McCain (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC) said they would block the potential nomination of current U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for Secretary of State. But not all of McCain and Graham’s Republican colleagues agree. Today Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that he will not “pre-judge” Rice if President Obama nominates her for Secretary of State. Rubio added that “you can’t go in with your mind made up” on the nomination. Rubio’s moderate approach resembles that of other GOP members like Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), who echoed Rubio, saying that he’d like to wait “before I jump” and that he’d like to “do more examination.” And Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) said on CNN today that he does “not blame” Rice for her comments on Sept. 16 that an anti-Islam film may have played a role in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Yesterday, McCain cited interviews in which Rice relayed information given to her by intelligence officials after the Benghazi attack and said that the ambassador “should have known better” and is “not qualified.” McCain also said that he will “do everything in my power to block her.” Yesterday, McCain and Graham held a press conference, along with Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), to make similar points.
In reality, McCain and Graham’s comments are inaccurate. David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote that the CIA report from the day Susan Rice appeared on morning talk shows on Sept. 16 said, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo…There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” The day after her first round of interviews, Rice said that she would wait until an investigation was complete and that “we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then.”
Here is Heck’s conversation with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien this morning:
It looks like Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Rand Paul (R-KY) also disagree with McCain and Graham on this issue. Corker said yesterday that “you have to give someone a full hearing.” Paul told CNN today that he will not “pre-judge” Rice if President Obama does in fact nominate her for Secretary of State.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-KY) said today that if Susan Rice is nominated by President Obama for Secretary of State then she must “answer” questions on Benghazi. Ayotte’s comments indicate that she will not, unlike McCain, automatically block a potential Rice nomination.