John McCain vows to block Susan Rice at State Department

1:16 PM, Nov 14, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- Sen. John McCain said Wednesday he will do "everything" in his power to block Susan Rice from becoming the next secretary of State, saying the U.N. ambassador is "not qualified" for the post.

The Arizona senator, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is calling for a select committee of Congress to investigate what happened in the deadly attacks at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.

At issue are Rice's comments attributing the Sept. 11 violence to a spontaneous uprising that was a response to an anti-Muslim video, and not a terrorist attack. President Obama is likely to be asked about the administration's handling of Benghazi at his news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"Susan Rice should have known better and if she didn't know better, she's not qualified," McCain said on Fox & Friends. "I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States secretary of State."

He repeated his sentiments about Rice at a news conference on Capitol Hill with fellow Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who echoed his concerns.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said repeatedly that she does not intend to return to the job in President Obama's second term. The Washington Post has reported that the nomination "will almost certainly go" to Rice.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday did not directly address personnel moves in his briefing with reporters. But he indicated that Rice has Obama's confidence.

"The president believes that Ambassador Rice has done an excellent job as the United States ambassador to the United Nations," Carney said. "I know that he believes that everyone here working for him has been transparent in the way that we've tried to answer questions about what happened in Benghazi."

Carney said "the information that we provided was based on the available assessments at the time. And as those assessments evolved and became more detailed and clear, we provided additional information."

On Capitol Hill, the Republican senators were resolute.

"I don't trust her," Graham, R-S.C., said about Rice. "She doesn't deserve to be promoted."

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