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.”