By Molly K. Hooper - 12/02/12 06:56 PM EST
A key Republican Senator predicted on Sunday that President Obama will not nominate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to become the next Secretary of State.
The incoming Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told NBC "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory that he didn’t believe Rice would be tapped for the nation’s top diplomatic post.
Ambassador Rice embarked on a damage-control circuit with members of the Senate last week to explain her role in the initial White House assessment that a spontaneous riot led to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
The administration and Rice later acknowledged that he September attack was a planned terrorist assault but Republicans have questioned whether the White House sought to hide that aspect for political reasons in the run up to November’s election.
Rice has been the focus of speculation as President Obama’s preferred pick to replace Hillary Clinton in his second term.
Obama has defended Rice's role as the administration's spokesperson on the matter, when she appeared on all five Sunday morning talk shows in the immediate aftermath of the incident, with what the administration says were incorrect talking points provided by the intelligence community.
Rice’s efforts to meet with GOP senators and last week and allay their concerns over her handling of Benghazi, though, appeared to have failed to win her support.
Sens. McCain, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said they were more “disturbed” after speaking with her. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a centrist Republican, also said she was unconvinced by Rice’s explanations for her role on Benghazi.
Corker, on Sunday, explained to Gregory that his colleagues were concerned that Rice behaved in a political manner in the days after the Benghazi attack.
"I do think the underlying issue is that people have seen her far more as a political operative and not a principal and I think that's what the White House is witnessing right now," Corker explained.
Regardless, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) called the current firestorm aimed squarely at Rice "terribly unfair" and said the failures sprung from the intelligence community.
"It's terribly unfair that she should be the scapegoat for this when really the failures ought to be at the lap of the intelligence community that produced these talking points but none of these guys will say a word about [former CIA Director] David Petraeus," McCaskill said on "Meet the Press."
When asked if it was a fight that President Obama should wage however, McCaskill was less supportive.
"I don't know whether he should take on the fight or not," the freshly re-elected Senator said.