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Mrs. Rice, as the official who stuck longest and most vociferously to the talking points, has borne the brunt of Republican criticism, setting the stage for a potential confirmation battle in the Senate.

President Obama reportedly is considering nominating Mrs. Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said she wants to leave the administration and politics.

“The story [Mrs. Rice] told reinforced a political narrative helpful to the president,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.

“[Mrs. Rice] is the most politically compliant person they could find. I don’t know what she knew, but I know the story she told was misleading,” said Mr. Graham, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Servies committees.