American Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice (shown) appears the likely candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as the next US secretary of state.
Close to 100 Republican members of the US House of Representatives have signed a letter addressed to President Barack Obama, expressing firm opposition to the potential nomination of UN envoy Susan Rice as the next secretary of state.
The Monday letter, signed by 97 representatives, comes after Obama strongly defended Rice in a news conference last week following his reelection and amid growing reports that the current US representative at the United Nations is the president’s top choice to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is reportedly no longer interested in remaining in the Obama administration due to her purported 2016 presidential ambitions.
“Though Ambassador Rice has been our representative to the UN, we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world,” the Republicans wrote in their letter to Obama.
The letter by the Republicans comes despite the fact that House members have no role in confirming cabinet secretaries, since it is the US Senate, as a matter of procedure, which votes on confirmation of administration cabinet nominees.
Rice has come under harsh criticism by Republicans for her initial statement that the deadly September 11 incident at the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya came as a spontaneous anti-American protest rally following the release of an anti-Islam video that was produced in the US. The Obama administration, however, claimed later that the attack had been pre-planned.
In his press conference last Wednesday, Obama lashed out at two Republican Senators leading the criticisms against Rice.
“If Senator [John] McCain and Senator [Lindsey] Graham, and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the UN ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. And, you know, we’re after an election now,” Obama said.
Despite Obama’s insistence that he had not yet made a final decision on Rice’s nomination, Democrat observers have emphasized that it would be difficult for Obama to pick a different candidate at this point since it would signal a weakness on his part in facing Senate Republicans that seem eager to challenge him.