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SC Lawmakers at Odds Over Susan Rice

Republican House members part of group of 97 who oppose Rice promotion.

Most of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation is at odds over Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Rice has been mentioned as a possible successor to Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, but before her candidacy is even official it’s encountered strong opposition, particularly from South Carolina’s Republicans.

The opposition stems from comments that Rice made while appearing on Sunday talk shows following the attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11 that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

During her appearances, Rice said that the attack on the embassy was spontaneous, when later investigations proved that it had been coordinated.

Last Wednesday, Rice said that when she appeared on the talk shows, "I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”

Still, her initial remarks set off a flurry of doubts that hasn’t relented. Mitt Romney attempted unsuccessfully to make them a campaign issue. At a press conference on Nov. 14, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believed Rice misled the American people and that “she is so disconnected from reality I don’t trust her.”

At the same press conference, Sen. John McCain of Arizona called Rice incompetent.

Last Sunday, while appearing on Meet the Press Graham reiterated his concerns over Rice. Both Graham and McCain have pledged to block Rice’s nomination as Secretary of State should President Obama put her name forward.

In his first press conference since being re-elected, Obama said the implication that Rice was not qualified for promotion was “outrageous.”

The president’s remarks did little to slow the criticism. On Tuesday, a group of 97 House members led by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina’s Third District wrote a letter to Obama saying they would oppose a Rice candidacy for Secretary of State. South Carolina’s other Republican congressmen, Joe Wilson, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney and Tim Scott also signed the letter. It’s attached to this article.

Later on Tuesday, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina’s Sixth District and the third ranking member in the House, lashed back at Republicans for their remarks about Rice and accused them of using racial “code words.”

Appearing on CNN, Clyburn said: "We heard them during the campaign. During this recent campaign, we heard Sununu calling our President ‘lazy,’ ‘incompetent.’ These kinds of terms that those of us – especially those of us who were born and raised in the South – we’ve been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives and we get insulted by them.”

Clyburn had particularly harsh words for McCain, saying that he “could not hold a candle” to Rice intellectually.

“But he told us that Sarah Palin was very competent to be vice president of the United States -- that should tell you a little about his judgment," Clyburn said.

Graham responded to Clyburn’s comments by saying that the only color he was concerned about is “red, blood red. The death of four Americans.”

Keep up with all of Patch's coverage of South Carolina politics by following us on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.

Shawn Drury December 14, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Robert...just my two cents here, but I don't think the Administration wanted to get into a divisive fight over her nomination--and that's what it would be--with the fiscal cliff negotiations going on. I also don't think the Administration wanted to put Rice in a position where she'd have to explain how she accumulated such massive wealth (b/w $20-40 million), which includes an interest in Keystone XL Pipeline. There's too many negatives associated with Rice.
stanley seigler December 14, 2012 at 04:43 AM
rice's standing in eyes of all, except SC white folks, raising... mccain/graham's 'national' standing declining...rice put USA over party and personal ambitions... she would have made a great sec of state.
Robert Kelly December 14, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Shawn, since Hillary has not actually resigned yet, and the timing on that is very much within the control of the administration, I don't think the Financial Bluff negotiations had to get entwined with the Sec of State. On the other hand, the interest in the Keystone project would be very much a discussion point, considering that the Sec of State has to make a recommendation on it. I often wonder how career politicians become so wealthy. That is an issue across the entire spectrum of political orientation. Considering the wealth of the individual senators, do you think they would go into that aspect? BTW, how did she accumulate so much?
Shawn Drury December 14, 2012 at 03:51 PM
@Robert - She's a career diplomat and her husband is a TV news producer. Those aren't two professions usually associated with the accumulation of that kind of wealth...so I don't think that was a conversation she was real interested in having...the Senate might have ducked that but the media wouldn't. So, between getting hammered by the Senate on Benghazi and the media on her income, it's probably better she step aside.
stanley seigler December 14, 2012 at 04:38 PM
re: BTW, how did she accumulate so much? would be interesting...links anyone... in fact it would be interesting to know how any politician accumulates wealth...not saying they dont deserve it, in most cases...just curious... OTOH 'Rice is not alone. News reports later noted that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the senator who has led the charge against Rice's nomination, is also invested in the company [a Dutch oil company]. 'A veteran of past confirmation battles noted that financial conflicts of interest are not unheard of for high-level nominees, and are typically reconciled during the nomination process.' http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/02/susan-rice-keystone-xl-white-house_n_2228490.html

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