Republicans Softening Tone on Susan Rice

Posted: Nov 26, 2012 6:56 PM
While Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been vocal and fierce critics of the Obama Administration and U.N. Susan Rice's handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, there are indicators that Republicans are softening their criticism as speculation swirls that Rice will be nominated for Secretary of State.

According to congressional aides and administration officials, Rice will be making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week for closed door meetings with key lawmakers whose support she will need to be confirmed... A senior Senate aide said the administration was trying to measure the strength of the Republican opposition to a Rice nomination, sounding out the more moderate members of the Foreign Relations Committee such as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is in line to become the panel's top Republican next year, and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Republicans called her nomination doomed, leading to a vigorous defense of her by Obama in his first post-election news conference. But since then, GOP lawmakers seemed to have softened their views. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said earlier this month that would he do everything in his power to scuttle a Rice nomination, said on Sunday that he was willing to hear her out before making a decision. McCain ally Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has also eased his opposition and said he is usually deferential to presidential cabinet picks.

Perhaps the Obama Administration is gauging just how intense Republican opposition will be not just to a Rice nomination, but to Obama politics in general. The softening of McCain's rhetoric - usually staunch once the Senator has made up his mind - is particularly noteworthy.

The Benghazi terrorist attacks were followed up with Ambassador Rice's appearance on talk shows to indicate that the Obama Administration thought the attacks were "spontaneous" and the result of anti-American protests sparked by a YouTube video.