Senators continued preparing Sunday for what could be the first big battle of President Obama's second term: The nomination of Susan Rice for secretary of State.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has opposed the prospect of Rice's nomination, said the United Nations ambassador would get the chance to explain her statements following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
"I'd be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her," McCain told Fox News Sunday. "I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain her position."
Like McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on ABC's This Week that there will be "a lot of questions" about Benghazi should Rice be nominated for secretary of State.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also on ABC, said Republicans are "piling on" Rice because she simply discussed an initial analysis of the attacks provided by the intelligence communities."Stop making this a personal attack on Ambassador Rice," Durbin said.
With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expected to retire soon, Obama is said to be considering Rice as well as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and others.
The nomination of Rice would intensify debate over the U.S. handling of the 9./11 attack in Benghazi that killed ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Officials, including Rice, initially attributed the attack to a protest of an anti-Islam film that got out of hand; later, they blamed a pre-planned terrorist attack.
Republicans accused the administration of trying to cover up the terrorist attack in the weeks before an election. They have zeroed in on Rice, who pushed the film story in a string of television interviews on Sept. 16, five days after the attack.
Said Graham on ABC: "That was a political story, not an intel story, and we're going to hold people accountable."
Addressing the flap last week, Rice said she relied on assessments from the intelligence community.
"I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community," Rice said. "I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers."