The Cycle | November 27, 2012
>>> i'm s.e. cupp. it's tuesday in the cycle. the snow is falling in new york.
>> i'm toure. from this chilly reception to hot topics in the white house , mexico new president arriving this hour.
>> president obama is getting ready to pack his bags. that's right. the campaigner in chief is heading back out onto the trail. he does know he won, right?
>> i'm steve kornacki. for me of us it's home for the holidays . you get a rare chance to see old friends and distant relatives. the bad news is you get a chance to see old friends and distant relatives.
>> i'm making a pledge to my friend grover norquist . you're in "the cycle," and you have my word it's going to be good.
>>> the case against ambassador susan rice as a successor to hillary clinton deepens. she went to the hill today to smooth it over with senators mccain , ayotte and graham who criticized her original comments on the deadly benghazi attacks. i picture the conversation between the president and rice going like this. we want you as secretary of state, so go make nice. answer their questions so they stop attacking you and threatening to block your possible nomination. yeah, so how did that work out?
>> we are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get. it is clear that the information that she gave the american public was incorrect.
>> bottom line, i'm more disturbed now than i was before with a little bit of inquiry and curiosity, i think it would be pretty clear that to explain this episode as related to a video that created a mob that turned into a riot was far afield. if you can do nothing but give bad information, isn't it better to give no information at all?
>> i'm more troubled today. just to be clear, when you have a position where you're ambassador to the united nations , you go well beyond unclassified talking points in your daily preparation and responsibilities for that job. that's troubling to me as well. why she wouldn't have asked.
>> amanda is a senior political reporter at the huffington post . amanda , susan rice also issued a statement after that meeting and in part she says, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community and the initial assessment upon which they were based were incorrect. in a key respect there was no protest or demonstration in benghazi . i have to say, i'm confused. we know from the cia testimony and those hearings that the intelligence was good and changed somewhere along the way . arecloser to figuring out where that communication breakdown occurred?
>> reporter: there's always a fog of war , as it is. a lot of this information we have to remember is classified. so she can't talk about it, and if they were talking about it, i'd be a little more disturbed because they'd be revealing classified information . is it still hard to figure out exactly what happened? yes. it does not seem like susan rice was out there deliberating lying as some senators said. she was begin these talking points about the intelligence community and was sent out by the white house and that's what she did. she delivered the information as to sort of the best of what she understood at the time.
>> well, it was not classified that this was a terrorist attack attack. that was in press reports days afterwards and before she went on national television. i got to ask, is the president wasting good capital pushing this nomination of a clearly controversy figure, regardless of which side you fall on susan rice , instead of pushing for immigration and fiscal cliff and saving up his capital there?
>> reporter: well, it's clear the president is fond of susan rice . you saw that in the press conference after the election. he really forcefully defended her. you saw more passionate people had been waiting for from the president. if there's a time to push someone, the president believes is the best personed to the job, it's after you win the election in a pretty strong way. so the president, i think, if he wants to push her, now is the team to do it. it's interesting that so many senators such as john mccain and lindsey graham oppose her. policy-wise she's closer to them in terms of policy and intervention and human rights than, say, senator john kerry , for example.
>> manamanda, you referenced the press conference where the president went to bat for susan rice . let's actually take a listen to them.
>> for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who this nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmurch her reputation is outrageous. when they gt after the u.n. ambassador apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me.
>> so, first of all, bes is suhsh is great word. prior to that press conference i was am bif lent to secretary of state. i like john kerry and sue glan rice. after i saul the president go to bat for her and point out how outrageous these attacks on her having, i am more inclined to want to see susan rice in that position, which also leads me to the conclusion. john mccain , if his ultimate goem w goal was to keep susan rice from secretary of state it seems he's made a tactical error. he backed the president into a corner and made it to appear weak and trying to placate mccain and graham and ayotte instead of going with the person that he really wants to see in the position.
>> reporter: i mean, you've seen lawmakers and some republican lawmakers go after quite a few of the president's either nominees, people who are actually in office. you have seen this with attorney general eric holder . epa had lisa jackson van jones who was at the white house and president obama won an election. he liked susan rice . he's close to her. it's clear he thinks she would be the best for the job or one of the best for the job, and he's going to fight for her. i think you're right. backing him into a corner may prompt him to fight harder.
>> amanda , the story has not advanced since day one. john mccain and kelly ayotte and lindsey graham saying why did she say the things she said? the only advance we had is the intelligence community said she said exactly what we told her to say. we knew it was an attack, and we told her not to say because we didn't want al qaeda to know we knew it at that point. the real question is why is mccain making this attack and wasting whatever political capital and reputation he has left?
>> reporter: well, some people are wondering does mccain want to simply stay in the spotlight? mccain is known for foreign policy . he's known for going on sunday shows. the benghazi issue gets him back in the spotlight. everyone is talking about john mccain again. so some people wonder if there's a little bit of political opportunism there.
>> i want to go back to something krystal said a minute ago. closing ranks behind susan rice because much political battle lines in this. you made the point earlier if you just looked at this without regard to benghazi and said john mccain realistically speaking, who potentially could appoint secretary of state that would agree ideological with you. realistically susan rice is as good as he can do. the consensus in the democratic party is probably to the right of it. i wonder is there any push-back from the left or from democrats in washington toward the administration just saying, hey, look, don't fall for this trap of nominating susan rice because you have to? get somebody that agrees more?
>> susan rice is very well respected, and i know a lot of progressives wanted her to be a spokesperson because they thought she was effective. susan rice is known as the conscience of the administration when it comes to human rights . se favors a muscular intervention diplomacy and is probably more willing to intervene on human rights issues than john kerry would be. john kerry , if he were nominated for secretary of state, would probably have an easier time through the senate, especially now, but also because the senators there are his colleagues.
>> amanda , thanks very much. see you soon.
>> thank you.
>> this hour the president meets with mexico's president-elect, and they're taking immigration. could we be on the verge of major reform? the spin cycle is next, and we roll on for tuesday, november 27th . [