Rice's unusual visit to Capitol Hill — typically only nominees meet privately with lawmakers — reflects the Obama administration's campaign for Rice as Clinton's replacement against some strenuous GOP opposition.
The White House remained defiant in its support for Rice, arguing that she was relying on an assessment from the intelligence community and had no responsibility in compiling the information on the cause of the attack. It dismissed what it characterized as a fixation on her national television appearances five days after the raid.
"The focus on, some might say, obsession on comments made on Sunday shows seems to me, and to many, to be misplaced," Obama spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a White House briefing.
House Democrats, including female members of the Congressional Black Caucus, have suggested that the GOP opposition to Rice is sexist and racist. Senate Democrats, who will increase their advantage to 55-45 in the next Congress, said Rice could win confirmation if Republicans recognize the unfairness of penalizing her for the intelligence community's talking points.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., told reporters "it is so unfair to hold her responsible for something that she didn't produce and which the intelligence community has specifically stood by."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the attacks against Rice by some Republican senators "outrageous and utterly unmoored from facts and reality."
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