Susan Rice and McCain set to meet face-to-face

Updated
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice speaks during a meeting on Syria in the United Nations Security Council, Aug. 30, 2012.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice speaks during a meeting on Syria in the United Nations Security Council, Aug. 30, 2012.
Bebeto Matthews/AP

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will meet with Sen. John McCain and other Republican leaders Tuesday morning. Rice, who has had to fend off harsh criticism from McCain in recent days, requested a meeting with the Arizona senator, as well as Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham, NBC News has confirmed.

McCain has levied a variety of attacks on Rice in recent weeks. At first, it took the form of Monday-morning quarterbacking the talk-show sound bites she offered in the wake of the September 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. It broadened into declarations that she is incompetent and therefore unqualified to become the next secretary of state. Then on Sunday, he seemed to soften his tone a bit–perhaps because he now finds himself largely alone in his party in taking a hard line on her–saying he would “be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues” with her.

Sen. Ayotte called the meeting crucial to deciding whether or not Rice will make a good secretary of state, but she also demanded to see documentation on the Benghazi attack, NBC News reported. “If President Obama nominates her for secretary of state, I would hold the nomination until sufficient answers regarding the Benghazi attack were given, then judge based on those answers,” the New Hampshire Republican said, before adding “it would be helpful to see some documents.”

Acting CIA Director Mike Morrell will accompany Rice on her meetings. She is expected to meet with Sen. Susan Collins, the leading Republican member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on Wednesday, sources tell NBC.

Rice’s request comes just under a week after she defended her remarks on Benghazi, saying her comments were based on “information [that] was preliminary.” President Obama has also aggressively defended Rice against the Republican attacks.

McCain’s critics have taken issue with his critique of Rice. On her show Sunday, Melissa Harris-Perry deemed this entire episode “infuriating.” First, there’s the racial and gender element to the criticism, which we’ve noted previously. Brandeis University professor Anita Hill (yes, the one and only) argued that in addition to intersectionality, there’s also very political and generational elements to this crusade of his.

What is most fascinating about all this now, however, is that McCain and his fellow Republicans will have to tell Rice, to her face and not through the media, that her response wasn’t “very bright,” and that she’s “unqualified.”

Susan Rice and McCain set to meet face-to-face

Updated