11/28/2012 12:59 pm ET Updated Jan 28, 2013

Susan Collins Not Ready To Support Susan Rice For Secretary Of State After Meeting, Praises John Kerry

* Some of her comments on Benghazi seen as political

* Rice was state's Africa point when embassies bombed

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Susan Collins met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Wednesday and afterward said she could not support her for secretary of state without more information.

Other Republicans have threatened to block Rice's nomination if President Barack Obama picks her to replace Hillary Clinton, which would require Senate confirmation.

Votes from moderate Republicans like Collins would be needed to overcome those procedural obstacles.

"I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination," Collins told reporters.

She said she would support Democrat Senator John Kerry for secretary of state: "I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and will be easily confirmed by his colleagues."

Collins met with Rice for one hour and 15 minutes but said she still wanted more information about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Some senators have openly criticized Rice for initial comments after the attack that suggested it was a spontaneous event arising from protests of an anti-Islam film rather than a preplanned terrorist strike.

Intelligence officials later said the attack was possibly tied to al Qaeda affiliates. "I still have many questions that remain unanswered," Collins said.

The Maine senator, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said she was concerned over Rice making what she termed "political" comments at the height of a contested presidential campaign.

And she stressed that the United States seems not to have learned lessons from the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, when Rice was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, which Collins said was "echoed" in many ways by the Benghazi attacks.

It was Rice's second straight day of meetings at the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations met for about an hour behind closed doors at the Capitol Tuesday with Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, who have been vocal critics of Rice.

Rice met with Senator Bob Corker, who is line to be the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after her discussion with Collins.



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