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 CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (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 ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Pentagon hails Fallujah's recapture | Texts to VA suicide hotline went unanswered Overnight Energy: U.S., Mexico, Canada to team up on clean energy The Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice MORE 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 GrahamLindsey GrahamDefense contingency misuse threatens national security Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-S.C.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteJuan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Republicans blast latest Gitmo transfer MORE (R-N.H.) said they were more “disturbed” after speaking with her. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsReid: McConnell silence on Trump 'speaks volumes' The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (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 McCaskillClaire McCaskillOvernight Tech: Obama heads back to Silicon Valley | FCC meeting preview | Yahoo bans terror content | Zuckerberg on sit-in live streams Senator shares frustrating call with cable company Hate TV customer service? So does your senator MORE (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.