After weeks of attacking U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s record as well as vocally opposing her possible nomination to be Secretary of State, Senator John McCain toned down his criticism during a television appearance on FOX News Sunday.
McCain led the charge against Rice that she misled the public when she said in interviews that the September siege of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a protest and not a planned terrorist attack. McCain indicated Sunday that he’d be open to speaking with Rice in order to hear an explanation.
“I’d give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took,” McCain said. “I’d be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her.”
McCain went on to say that President Obama’s handling of the Benghazi attack—in which four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed—was the problem.
President Obama defended Rice against McCain’s accusations during his first post-election press conference, and Rice herself addressed the Senator’s concerns in statements last week, saying she relied only on intelligence reports and not White House talking points for her remarks.
“I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers,” Rice said.
McCain threatened to filibuster Rice’s nomination, but has failed to drum up support from his Republican colleagues in the Senate, many of whom said they would not oppose her appointment.
In the House of Representatives, 97 Republicans signed a letter addressed to the president, noting their concern over a possible Rice nomination. House members, however, play no role in the appointment of cabinet members.