McCain says U.N.'s Rice could change his mind over Benghazi

WASHINGTON Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:15pm EST

1 of 2. Senator John McCain reacts to a remark during the University of Southern California's Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy inaugural Symposium in Los Angeles, California, September 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator John McCain, a vocal opponent of Susan Rice's possible nomination as Secretary of State, said on Sunday that the U.N. ambassador could change his mind after she explained her statements on the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

"Sure. She can - I'd give everyone the benefit of explaining their position and the actions that they took," McCain said on the "Fox News Sunday" program when asked if Rice could reverse his opposition.

"I'd be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her," he said.

In what could become the first ugly nomination fight of Democratic President Barack Obama's second term, Republicans have criticized Rice for appearing on Sunday morning news shows shortly after the September 11 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans and saying early information suggested it was the result of protests over an anti-Muslim film rather than a premeditated strike.

During the U.S. presidential campaign, supporters of Republican candidate Mitt Romney seized on the issue to attack Obama.

McCain had vowed to oppose any attempt by Obama to put Rice into a position that would require Senate confirmation, as the president prepares to fill anticipated vacancies in his Cabinet.

Rice had said earlier this week she respected McCain and looked forward to having the chance to discuss the Benghazi situation with him. The U.N. ambassador has objected to contentions that she deliberately misled the public in the wake of the Benghazi attack.

McCain was asked whether Rice could get his vote to be Secretary of State, and responded: "I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself and her position, just as she said."


Another senior Senate Republican, Lindsey Graham, said on Sunday that Rice would face "a lot of questions" during any Senate confirmation hearing.

"I don't believe the video is the reason for this. I don't believe it was ever the reason for this. That was a political story, not an intel story, and we're going to hold people accountable," Graham said on ABC's "This Week" show.

Many Republicans in the House of Representatives have also blasted Rice over Benghazi, although the House is not involved in the Cabinet confirmation process.

Republican Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, criticized Rice on Sunday, although he said she has "done an effective job" at the United Nations.

"But on this she was wrong," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

"If she's sent out there to speak to the American people on what happened on Benghazi, she's obligated to do more than look at three sentences of unclassified, or five sentences of unclassified talking points. Because that was basically a cover story," he said.

He insisted Rice's position gives her access to classified information, and said, "She has an obligation not just to be a puppet."

(Additional reporting by Jason Lange, editing by Philip Barbara)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (55)
texoman wrote:
McCain just do us and yourself a great favor and RETIRE!

Nov 25, 2012 12:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Bfstk wrote:
Cmon McCain stop being a bonehead and admit you were wrong about Susan
Rice. She was simply passing on information from the intelligence community designed to help camouflage the situation. Isn’t it time McCain did the right thing and admitted he was flat out wrong?

Nov 25, 2012 12:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
captwasabi wrote:
Wait a minute. Obama claims that the day after the Benghazi attack he was calling it a terrorist attack but for weeks after that Rice was calling it an attack caused by an internet video.

Which is it liberals? You cannot have your cake and eat it too. It’s time to start being honest and to stop attacking a man who is only speaking the truth.

Nov 25, 2012 12:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.