Prospects brighten for Rice to succeed Clinton
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's top UN diplomat appears to have a clearer path to succeeding retiring Secretary of State Hilary Clinton after two top Republican critics moderated their accusations that Ambassador Susan Rice was part of a government cover-up of what happened in the Sept 11 terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Libya.
The political furor over the Benghazi assault that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans exploded before the Nov 6 presidential election and continued for weeks afterward, with Ms Rice becoming the focus of Republican attacks. Ms Rice is widely considered Mr Obama's top pick to replace Mrs Clinton during his second four-year term.
Now, while refusing to back away from charges of a cover-up, Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have toned down their complaints, suggesting Republicans may not block Ms Rice's appointment if Mr Obama chooses to nominate her.
Still, the political conflict over a foreign policy issue was a sign of the severe polarisation gripping the United States. It could portend difficulties for Mr Obama as he seeks required Senate approval for nominations as he revamps his administration at the start of a second four-year term.