Top Republicans More Troubled after Rice Testimony

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The woman who could be President Obama's pick for secretary of state, current United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, defended herself on Capitol Hill Tuesday for comments she made days after the deadly Sept.11 attack in Libya.

Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte met privately with Rice and acting CIA Director Michael Morell for more than an hour to discuss her inflammatory explanation of the attack in Benghazi that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

But after the meeting all three Republicans said they are more troubled than ever.

"We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get concerning evidence that was leading up to the attack on the Consulate and the tragic death of four brave Americans and whether Ambassador Rice was prepared, or informed sufficiently, to give the American people the correct depiction of the events that took place," McCain told reporters.

"Bottom line I'm more disturbed now than I was before that 16 September explanation," Graham said.
 
The three insisted that they need more information about the Libyan raid before they even consider Rice as a possible replacement for Hillary Clinton.
 
"I'm more troubled today," said Ayotte, who argued that it was clear in the days after the attack that it was terrorism and not a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an anti-Muslim video.

Rice told the lawmakers that the initial assessment of the cause of the attack five days later was wrong.
 
"The talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: There was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi," Rice said in a statement after the meeting.

"While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case the intelligence assessment has evolved," she said.

The strong statements from the three senators clouded Rice's prospects only two days after Republican opposition seem to be softening.

Rice has planned meetings on Wednesday with Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is in line to become the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Corker said Tuesday that he had concerns with a possible nomination.
 
"When I hear Susan talk she seems to me like she'd be a great chairman of the Democratic National Committee," Corker said. "There is nobody who is more staff supportive of what the administration does. That concerns me in a secretary of state."

Rice's series of meetings on Capitol Hill will be a critical test both for Republicans, who will decide whether they can support her, and the Obama administration, which must gauge whether Rice has enough support to merit a nomination.

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