usan Rice, America's ambassador to the U.N., is meeting Tuesday with several GOP senators who have threatened to block her confirmation if President Obama nominates her to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is expected to resign in January. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of Rice's top critics, suggested on Sunday that he might ease off if Rice can explain remarks she made in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack. Days after the assault, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Rice said it appeared to have been a spontaneous outburst of violence, not a planned act of terrorism. Some Republicans have accused her of trying to mislead the public to shield the Obama administration from criticism. Rice maintains that she was only passing on the evolving assessment of the intelligence community. Are Republicans starting to believe her?
Republicans are backing down: It's looking increasingly likely that Rice will be confirmed if Obama nominates her, says Howard LaFranchi at The Christian Science Monitor. Now that the election is over, the "hyper-partisan atmosphere" of the campaign is dissipating. McCain's "less strident tone" suggests the GOP is now game for "a more bipartisan approach." That means that "barring any egregious disqualifiers," they'll give the president the diplomatic and national security team he wants.
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The GOP just wants answers, not a fight: This meeting with Rice is "pure theater, but smart politics," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Obama was just re-elected and his party picked up seats in the Senate. "He thinks he can get Rice confirmed," and the Maverick probably thinks so, too. McCain has apparently concluded that filibustering Rice's nomination would backfire on the GOP, and forcing Rice to explain her Benghazi remarks "may be the fig leaf he needs to avoid it."
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And it's obvious Obama will nominate her: It's now "practically a foregone conclusion" that President Obama wants Rice to replace Clinton, says Steve Benen at MSNBC. "It's hard to imagine the White House going to such lengths unless Rice were slated for a promotion." He's even sending the acting CIA director to back up Rice's argument that she was only repeating what intelligence agencies were saying. Holding the chat behind closed doors will let Rice's critics drop their "smear" tactics without losing face.
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