Forget Susan Rice. Sen. Susan Collins is in John Kerry’s corner.
The moderate Republican from Maine spoke to reporters after meeting with U.N. Ambassador Rice Wednesday and insisted she needed more information before she could back Obama's presumed choice to be the next secretary of state.
“I still have many questions that remain unanswered. I continue to be troubled by the fact that the U.N. ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign by agreeing to go on the Sunday shows to present the administration’s position" on the Benghazi attacks, said Collins.
Her remarks echoed Republican Sen. John McCain, who said he and fellow GOP Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham were “significantly troubled” by Rice, whom they met with on Tuesday.
Rice said that the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was in response to an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S., rather than a pre-planned act of terrorism. That turned out to be false, although Rice and President Obama insist that she was simply offering the public the best information she had at the time.
Collins said that, while she needed “more information” before supporting Rice for secretary of state, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts—who is also reportedly being considered for the post—would be “easily confirmed by his colleagues.”
Collins added that it troubled her that Rice, as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was involved in the State Department's reaction to the 1998 embassy bombing in Africa where ambassadors "begged for additional security." The senator asked Rice what role she had played in turning down the requests 14 years ago. Rice, according to Collins, said she’d have to refresh her memory but did not think she was involved.
Rice is also scheduled to meet with Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Tune into Hardball tonight at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. We'll have Sen. Collins on to tell us more about her meeting with Rice.