- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will meet on Tuesday with Republican senators who have criticized her comments about the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in an effort to smooth her path if she is tapped to be the next secretary of state.

Senate and administration officials confirmed to The Washington Times that Ms. Rice, accompanied by Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, plans to meet Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and fellow Republicans Sens. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

All three senators have been highly critical of comments Ms. Rice made on five Sunday political talk programs five days after the attack. She repeated initial, tentative and inaccurate U.S. intelligence assessments that the military style assault on the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA facility, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, appeared to be spontaneous, inspired by protests across the Arab world against a crude anti-Islam video made in the United States.

Ms. Rice, along with Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, are widely thought to be under consideration by the White House as possible successors to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. McCain previously vowed to block any attempt to nominate Ms. Rice. But he hinted Sunday that he might be softening his attitude.

“She deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

“She’s not the problem. The problem is the president,” he said.

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