Obama defends Amb. Rice but will he nominate her?

Updated

President Barack Obama is fiercely defending UN Ambassador Susan Rice on Benghazi exactly because he doesn’t plan to appoint her as Secretary of State, msnbc host S.E. Cupp said on Thursday’s Morning Joe.

“I think that the defense was so full-throated because he does not plan to appoint her and doesn’t want to be accused of sort of caving to Republican pressure,” Cupp said. “He came out so strongly so that when he doesn’t appoint her and goes with someone like John Kerry or even Tom Donilon, his defense is already on record and he doesn’t have to re-litigate that again in the press.”

Yesterday, the president responded to criticisms against Rice at his first press conference since being reelected, saying if critics like Sen John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham “want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” Obama said, adding: “If they go after the U.N. ambassador because apparently they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me.”

Cupp said the indignation was misplaced. Rice was made a spokeswoman on the attacks, she said, so people responding to being misled by that spokesperson is natural.

Graham responded in a statement: “Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi. I think you failed as commander-in-chief before, during, and after the attack.”

McCain responded on the floor of the Senate, saying he and other critics are “not picking on anybody.”

“We intend to pursue this until the American people have the answers they deserve,” he said. “This president and this administration has either been guilty of colossal incompetence, or engaged in a cover-up.”

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Obama defends Amb. Rice but will he nominate her?

Updated