It has become a battle before a nomination. As the idea of nominating U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice to become secretary of state has been floating around, many GOP senators say they will not support her nomination due to her comments after the September 11th attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
On Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) said he would be open to speaking with Ambassador Rice over her controversial comments, but based on what we have learned this week, these meetings have not gone as planned.
Rice’s meetings Tuesday with Sens. McCain, Kelly Ayotte (R- N.H.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) left them even more “disturbed” about the situation than they were before. Ayotte and Graham have vowed to place a hold on a Rice nomination.
After her meeting on Wednesday, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said Rice failed to learn from the 1988 bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa, when Rice was assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Collins said the request for extra security before those attacks and the September attack in Benghazi were eerily similar. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) says he too needs more questions answered after his meeting with Rice.
But none of this has seemed to discourage President Obama. He again praised Ambassador Rice Wednesday during his cabinet meeting, calling her “extraordinary” when pressed by reporters.
Now the question is: should the president put Rice up for nomination and risk it being halted? Or should he nominate Senator John Kerry (D-MA), whom many believed was the natural choice for the position and by most accounts still has a clear path to the State Department? Kerry is widely believed to want the position, but if Rice gets the nod, Kerry would oversee her confirmation hearings since he is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Despite the Republican opposition to her, Rice might only need a few GOP votes if Democrats choose to back her.
No word yet on when the president is expected to announce his nominee, but as the New York Times points out, at this stage in the game, the president might be boxed into a corner. If he does not nominate Rice critics will say he caved to republican pressure.