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Nov 28, 2012 Comments Off on ‘Serious Blow': Moderate GOP Senator Collins Joins Group Blasting Ambassador Rice After Second Round Of Meetings Infidel

Excerpted from Politico: Susan Rice’s already fading chances of becoming the next secretary of state suffered another serious blow Wednesday courtesy of moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins.

Rice, the U.N. ambassador, will need the support of a handful of Republicans if she expects to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But Collins emerged from a face-to-face meeting and blasted Rice’s response to the Benghazi attack — the latest of several Republicans this week to signal that a Rice nomination will have real trouble getting through the Senate.

Collins (R-Maine), the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, accused Rice of playing a “political role” during the presidential election by going on five Sunday talk shows and incorrectly describing the deadly Sept. 11 assault as something spurred by spontaneous protests rather than a deliberate terrorist attack.

And Collins said Rice’s response to Benghazi had an “eerie echo” of the 1998 bombings of two African embassies, which occurred when Rice was an assistant secretary of state for African Affairs.

“Those bombings in 1998 resulted in the loss of life of 12 Americans as well as many other foreign nationals, and 4,000 people were injured,” Collins told reporters after her hourlong, closed-door meeting with Rice.

“And what troubles me so much is that the Benghazi attacks echoes the attacks on those embassies in 1998 when Susan Rice was head of the African region for our State Department. … She had to be aware of the general threat assessment and of the ambassadors’ request for more security.”

But a senior Republican who also met with Rice and is expected to play a critical role in the confirmation of the next secretary of state declined to join the criticism of Rice on Wednesday.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who is expected to be the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress, repeatedly said he would not weigh in on Rice’s credentials to lead Foggy Bottom, preferring to wait until Obama officially makes his nomination.

“The president is going to have to make the decision about who he nominates to be secretary of state,” Corker told reporters. “And hopefully, it’ll be someone that is able to both show independence but have the ability to lead this nation and lead the world through as many of the difficulties as we have before us.”

Corker urged Obama to “step back away from all the buzz around” the Benghazi attacks when deciding who he would choose as Clinton’s successor.

Corker, who met privately with Rice for about an hour-and-a-half on Wednesday, said he could “not be more disappointed” with the government’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks at the consulate in Benghazi.

Rice’s meetings with Collins and Corker came a day after a similar meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, who have threatened to block her possible nomination to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Barack Obama has not yet nominated anyone for the post, but Rice has been considered the frontrunner.

Collins said she would not join McCain and other critics in holding up her nomination. But that doesn’t mean she would vote for Rice if she is nominated, Collins said.

“I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination,” Collins said. “There is much to be learned and I think it would be premature for me to reach that judgment now.”

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