Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said attacks on U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, an African-American woman who is a top candidate for secretary of state in the second term of President Barack Obama, used racial code words.
The House member was asked directly on Tuesday whether there was a racist or sexist component to the criticisms of Rice's appearance on Sept. 16 Sunday television, during which Rice said that the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks were based off an incendiary anti-Muslim video, rather than a terrorist attack.
Clyburn took issue with legislators calling Rice "incompetent" in the wake of the interviews.
"You know, these are code words," said Clyburn on CNN's "Starting Point." "These kinds of terms that those of us -- especially those of us who were grown and raised in the South -- we've been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives and we get insulted by them."
"Susan Rice is as competent as anybody you will find. And just to paste that word on her causes problems with people like [Rep.] Marcia Fudge, and certainly causes a big problem with me. I don't like those words. Say she was wrong for doing it, but don't call her incompetent. That is something totally different. A lot of very competent people sometimes make errors. And to say that she erroneously did it, I don't have a problem with it."
"And Sen. McCain called her incompetent, as well, 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.
McCain has called Rice "not qualified" to be secretary of state, and has said that the handling of Benghazi was either a "cover-up or incompetence." McCain now says that he can't support any secretary of state nominee because of the Benghazi attacks.
Despite McCain's accusation that Rice intentionally misled the public in her Sunday show appearances, CIA documents back up that she was reading off the most current intelligence assessment.