Following a meeting with United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, Republican Sen. Susan Collins said that Sen. John Kerry, should he be nominated as secretary of state, would be much more easily confirmed than Rice, saying that there are “many questions that remain unanswered” about Rice’s response to the attacks in Benghazi.
Stepping out of a 75-minute meeting with Rice, Collins told reporters that, in particular, she was “troubled by the fact that the U.N. ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign by agreeing to go on the Sunday shows to present the administration’s position.”
She also pointed to Rice’s assertion that the attack was a protest of an anti-Muslim video, and not a terrorist attack. Rice has been lambasted by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte for that fact.
“At the time that Ambassador Rice made these assertions, there was conflicting evidence, that is true. But we had the president of Libya saying that fifty people had been arrested, that terrorists from other countries had come to Libya, and that the attack was premeditated and planned. I asked Ambassador Rice whys he did not qualify her comments more in light of this contradictory reporting from the president of the country. Her answer was that she relied on our intelligence analysis. I don’t understand why she would not have at least qualified her response to that question.”
Collins said she was “also very troubled” by the similarities she saw between the Sept. 11, 2012, attack and the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa, since, at the time, Rice was Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the State Department.
“I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination,” Collins said, of the possibility that President Barack Obama will nominate Rice as Secretary of State when Hillary Clinton leaves that post. Collins said it “would be premature if we were to make that judgment now, when investigations into the Benghazi attacks and the events surrounding them are still ongoing.
But Collins said she would have no hesitation about supporting her Democratic colleague for the spot. (RELATED: Chris Matthews: Obama’s potential Rice nomination ‘not helpful’ [VIDEO])
“I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues,” she said.