Prominent Republican senators including McCain and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina vowed to oppose Rice’s nomination to any higher office, while a group of 97 House Republicans took the unusual step of sending a letter to Obama saying they opposed Rice’s possible nomination for secretary of State – even though the House has no role in approving presidential nominations.
A heated debate ensued that included charges from Democrats of Republican sexism and racism (Rice being an African-American woman). By the weekend, key Republican voices tempered their rhetoric.
McCain said on “Fox News Sunday” that he’d “be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with” Rice, while Senator Graham said on ABC’s “This Week” that he blames the president more than Rice for the administration’s depiction of the Benghazi attack and its reluctance to call it a terrorist attack.
Still, Graham said that if Obama does nominate Rice, “there will be a lot of questions asked of her about this event and others.” Also, he vowed to pursue an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack.
Over on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” House Republican Peter King of New York lauded Rice’s work at the UN, particularly on North Korea. But as for the argument that Rice was speaking from vetted intelligence talking points when she went on national television five days after the attack, Representative King said that as a senior administration official, “she has an obligation not to just be a puppet and take what’s handed to her.”