msnbc | November 22, 2012
>>> we're hearing from ambassador susan rice for the first time at the united nations yesterday. she defended what she said on the sunday talk shows about the attack on the consulate in benghazi .
>> when discussing the attacks against our facilities in benghazi , i relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community . i made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.
>> i want to bring in margie omaro and joe watkins , republican strategist. good morning to both of you. happy thanksgiving.
>> good morning.
>> this is time of peace and tranquility among the family. let's ask you this. with her having come out now, she's saying what in her own defense what she was given, her talking points , what she was told to say, intelligence given at the time. does this put any of this to rest, joe ?
>> i think that this is a good start for ambassador rice. she's somebody that has an impeccable background, phi beta kappa rhodes scholar , somebody well regarded in the international community and the united states . she could be very well our next nominee for secretary of state. i think that it's okay to explain what happened. i think it's a good thing to explain that you've got information that led you to say what you said. and i think her real battle right now lies with convincing senator mccain . she's got to reach out to senator mccain , some of the others who have to confirm her in her bid to be the next secretary of state. i think she can do that. but she's got to continue to reach out to them.
>> she did make a statement about that. in addition to senator mccain , senator lindsey graham as well they have both been outspoken critic of what happened. not only is there a coverup but they would oppose susan rice 's nomination to secretary of state. listen to what she said directly to john mccain .
>> i have great respect for senator mccain and his service to our country. i always have. and i always will. i do think that some of the statements he's made about me have been unfounded but i look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.
>> that's a measured and appropriate way to respond, very respectful. but let's put yourself in john mccain 's shoes. do you call for a meeting with susan rice or something public, congressional hearings ? how do you see this playing out?
>> i think that joe should write john mccain 's talking points because he sounds more measured and moderate in response. what susan rice did was defend herself, reiterate what we've been saying throughout the process, which is she was working off talking points , the documents back that up. and she also reached out an olive bran tomp senator mccain , something he has not done and it's that language from john mccain . this is the same senator who said that sarah palin was qualified saying susan rice is unqualified. and he's using language that voters have just had it, they have had it up to here, sick of this kind of partisan back fighting and et rherhetoric and fighting. what she did was completely appropriate. it remains to be seen what john mccain does. i note, joe , i'm curious what your thoughts are. john mccain decided not to go to a classified briefing on benghazi to hold a press conference to complain about benghazi . what does that told tell you about his attitude reaching out across the aisle being open and tolerant.
>> nobody wants to see partisan pickering, the time for that is past. i think senator mccain 's biggest concern was the loss of life, the fact we lost our ambassador. susan rice worked with closely and had great respect for. she worked closely with that ambassador, with some -- so saddened to know he lost his life and three of his colleagues did as well. senator mccain cares about the loss of life and knowing the facts as best he might. and he's someone who deeply cares about the u.s. and our relationship with the countries and certainly about what happened in benghazi . so i think she has to continue to reach out to him, to him, senator lindsey graham , i think talk to them behind closed doors and explain. i said yesterday, on msnbc, there are lots of smart people . susan rice is one of them. she's a bright woman. very qualified. very competent person but sometimes smart people make mistakes and it's okay to say that, too.
>> the president has forcefully defended susan rice . but the issue doesn't seem to be going away. listen to this, congressman clyburn suggesting it was racial? let's take a listen.
>> these are code words . we heard them during the campaign. during this recent campaign, we heard senator sununu calling our president lazy, incompetent, these kinds of terms that those of us especially those of us born and raised in south, we have been hearing these words and phrases all of our lives and we get insulted by them.
>> margie , weigh in on this. what's your take?
>> i can't speak to anybody's intent behind words like that. it is something elected officials need to be mindful of to make sure the tone doesn't come across from in a way disrespectful. to say she's incompetent is not something you imagine republicans saying about if susan rice was older or an older man. it would harder to imagine that charge. you don't see democrats say -- you didn't see democrats saying condi rice . it's something that i think we need to keep in mind, how our language comes across. for republicans who have problems seeming open and toll ran and embracing voters across the board, they should be a little bit more considerate.
>> your thought on this one, too? representative clyburn suggesting it's racial, joe ?
>> this is of course is sensitive to me. i'm an african-american man. i know racism still exists in the country. i have enormous respect for congressman clyburn, he's a real giant, somebody i know and admire greatly. i'm not sure this particular instance this disagreement between senator mccain and senator graham and ambassador rice is race based. there was another rice, secretary of state, condi rice , came under criticism from members of congress for one thing or the other. and it was based bpurely on disagreement of the issue. i think senator mccain and graham have concerns and certainly take issue with ambassador rice. i think it would do her well to continue to talk about what happened and talk directly to them as well to make herself available to them and to explain what happened to them in a way they'll fine satisfactory. that's a way to make this thing go away.
>> can i ask you guys real quick, a yes or no answer, will she be nominated for secretary of state? margie , you first?
>> you know, certainly look like she might.
>> okay. joe ?
>> yeah, i think she has a good chance to be nominated. a lot depends how she handles this little dust-up here. but i think she has a great chance to be nominated.
>> okay. you guys have a great thanksgiving holiday. thank you.