President Obama vehemently stood up for Susan Rice during a press conference on Wednesday, pushing back on Republicans who say the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. misrepresented the September attack in Benghazi. Ambassador Rice is rumored to be a leading candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. This possibility (and Obama's unyielding defense of Rice) has only fueled the GOP's fires. Here's a guide to their attack lines:
1. Obama is being ‘silly, sexist’
Fox News’ Kirsten Powers insists that Obama’s defense of Rice was sexist, arguing that the president cast her “as some delicate flower the boys should stop picking on." “There is no damsel in distress and Obama’s paternalistic bravado in defense of a top administration official is going to come back to haunt him.” Powers added that it was “absurd and chauvinistic” for Obama to talk as if Rice needs “the big strong man to come to her defense because a couple of senators are criticizing her.”
2. If Rice had nothing to do with Benghazi, ‘then why the hell are you sending her out there?’
During an appearance on Fox News, columnist Charles Krauthammer contended that Obama “gives the strangest defense by saying she didn’t have anything to do with Benghazi." "Okay, then why the hell are you sending her out there? Why didn’t you send out the Secretary of State or the CIA Director or Panetta or somebody who did know?”
3. Rice is up to her ”eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle.”
After Obama’s press conference, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina doubled down on his attacks against Rice and Obama. "Mr. President, don’t think for one minute [that] I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi. I think you failed as commander-in-chief before, during, and after the attack.” He added, "Given what I know now, I have no intention of promoting anyone who is up to their eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle."
4. This “echoes of Watergate”
Arthur Louis writes on Bernard Goldberg’s website that Obama’s defense of Rice (who, Obama said, did “exemplary work”) reeks of the Watergate scandal. “When Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, two top White House staffers who had been implicated in the Watergate scandal, were forced to resign, Nixon went on TV and called them 'two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know.'" Sound familiar? argues Louis.
5. Obama is just mad because he was planning to nominate Rice
Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves after the press conference, saying “I don’t have any doubt he’s gonna nominate her for State, and he’s livid here that these people would dare block his intentions.” Limbaugh repeated the Watergate reference. “Obama's is the bottom of the cover-up on Benghazi. It's why I said that this dwarfs Watergate.”