NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The leading contender to be the next secretary of state met with Republican critics on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to defend her comment about the deadly Sept. 11 raid on the American Consulate in Libya.
But it apparently was not successful.
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice had a lot riding on her closed-door meeting with key GOP senators, but they weren’t buying what she was selling, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers we got and some that we didn’t get,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said.
Rice needs the Senate’s support if President Barack Obama chooses her to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but her highly publicized comments right after the attack on the American mission in Benghazi — she said it was not a terrorist attack when it was — have opened her up top harsh criticism.
And she has been on the defensive ever since.
“I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigation would give us definitive answers,” Rice said recently.
Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell joined Tuesday’s meeting to help Rice answer questions.
“I’m more troubled today, knowing, having met with the acting director of the CIA and Ambassador Rice, because it’s certainly clear from the beginning that we knew that those with ties to Al-Qaeda were involved in the attack on the embassy,” New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said.
Two weeks ago, former CIA director David Petraeus told lawmakers someone removed references to terrorism and Al-Qaeda from the agency summary before the talking points went to Rice.
After the meeting, the Republican senators said they needed more information about the Benghazi raid before they would even consider Rice as a possible Clinton replacement. The White House aggressively defended her.
“As the president made clear, Ambassador Rice has no responsibility for collecting, analyzing and providing intelligence, nor does she have responsibility as the United States ambassador to the United Nations for diplomatic security around the globe,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
President Obama has said the criticism of Rice is outrageous. But it remains to be seen if he will tap her as the nation’s chief diplomat.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts is also said to be in the running
Rice has more meetings with Republican senators on Wednesday.
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