United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. (Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
David Jackson, USA TODAY
President Obama hasn't said whether he will nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, but the debate over her is already intense.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., told CNN on Tuesday that some Republican claims that Rice is "incompetent" may be racial in nature.
"These are code words," Clyburn said, adding that "these kinds of terms that those of us -- especially those of us who were born and raised in the South -- we've been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives and we get insulted by them."
Rice, the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been criticized by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other Republicans over comments she made following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
From National Journal:
"McCain and (Sen.) Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have attacked Rice in recent weeks for her Sunday show appearances in the days following the terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, criticizing her for not going further to label the assault a terrorist act. On Monday, 97 House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama saying that Rice is unfit to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"The administration has said that Rice was simply using talking points supplied by the intelligence community during her television appearances."
Clinton is expected to announce her retirement from the State Department soon; Rice is on the short list to replace her.
In his CNN appearance, Clyburn said of McCain: "He told us that Sarah Palin was a very competent person to be Vice President of the United States. That ought to tell you a little bit about his judgment."