By Justin Sink - 11/28/12 01:53 PM EST
Isakson said lawmakers should focus on how the terrorist attack developed and how best to prevent similar incidents in the future — not on comments Rice made on political talk shows.
"You don't want to shoot the messenger," said Isakson, who added that Rice was working off talking points prepared by the administration when she appeared on television.
"She read what she was told to read in those five interviews on that Sunday right after Benghazi," he said. "The first murdered ambassador since 1979. Why do we have false information and not have the intelligence we should have had? Those are answers the American people need."
Rice said Tuesday that she had been wrong about the cause of the violence, but was relying on talking points provided by the intelligence community and did not intend to mislead the public. But some high-level Senate Republicans, including John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), said that after meeting with Rice on Tuesday, they remained skeptical of her explanation and would not likely support her potential nomination as secretary of State.
Isakson said that he viewed Rice as "a very smart, very intelligent woman" who has done "a good job" as U.N. ambassador, but defended tough Republican questioning of Rice by saying the Obama administration had put her "on the tip of the spear."
"She's up front," Isakson said. "Quite frankly, no one else has come forward in the administration. I give the president credit; he said, 'Don't blame her, blame me.' That's why I'm saying he needs to give us the questions."