WASHINGTON ‚?? The partisan political divide over the potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to be secretary of state intensified Sunday with Republicans questioning her fitness for the job and Democrats defending her.
Republican senators said they remain deeply concerned over Rice‚??s statements about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and suggested her motive was to help President Barack Obama‚??s re-election chances. Democrats, meanwhile, said they saw no reason the statements should disqualify her if she‚??s nominated.
At issue is the explanation Rice offered in a series of talk show appearances five days after the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Rice has conceded in private meetings with lawmakers that her initial account ‚?? that a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. triggered the attack ‚?? was wrong, but she has insisted she was not trying to mislead the American people. That account was provided by intelligence officials who have since said their understanding of the attack evolved as more information came to light.
Appearing on Sunday talk shows, two of Rice‚??s fiercest critics, Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Rice‚??s account went beyond talking points that the intelligence agencies gave her. For one, they noted she had said that security at the Benghazi mission was ‚??strong, substantial and significant.‚?Ě