POLITICS
11/25/2012 12:05 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

John McCain Softens Opposition To Susan Rice Nomination

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he could be convinced not to prevent United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice from taking the top job at the U.S. State Department if President Barack Obama were to nominate her for the position.

McCain previously said he would block a Rice nomination for secretary of state because of her faulty explanation for the murder of Libya Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi in September.

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked McCain if there was anything Rice could do to change his mind.

"Sure, she can give everyone the benefit of explaining their position, and the actions they took," McCain said. "I'll be glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with her."

McCain had questions for Rice: "Why did she say that al Qaeda has been decimated?" McCain said. "Al Qaeda has not been decimated. They are on the rise. They are all over Iraq. Training camps are in Libya. They are all over Syria and are on the rise in the Middle East, and there's a lot of questions for Ambassador Rice. And I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to discuss these with her."

Less than two weeks ago, McCain said he'd stop a Rice nomination at all costs. "I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States secretary of state," McCain said on Nov. 14. "She has proven that she either doesn't understand, or she is not willing to accept evidence on its face. There is no doubt five days later what this attack was and for."

Shortly after the attack, Rice said on talk shows that it was not related to terrorism. The administration later clarified that Rice's comments were based on incomplete talking points from the intelligence community.

Rice said last week that some of McCain's statements about her were "unfounded," but that she looked forward to talking with him.

President Obama, for his part, has harshly criticized McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for their criticism of Rice.

"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone, they should go after me," Obama said. "And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the United Nations ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intel she had received, and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."

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