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Obama defends UN Ambassador Susan Rice, rumored to be Secretary of State front-runner

At his first press conference since reelection, President Barack Obama said he may choose to nominate Rice for Secretary of State, and warned Republicans against blocking her confirmation.

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US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice speaks during a Security Council meeting in September. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama said he has not decided whether he will nominate UN Ambassador Susan Rice for Secretary of State but warned the GOP against blocking her confirmation.

Speaking at his first press conference since reelection, Obama said "when they go after the UN ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me. And should I choose — if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity — the State Department, then I will nominate her. That's not a determination that I've made yet."

Ambassador Rice and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) are being touted as the front-runners for the position.

Earlier today, Senate Republicans said they will block Rice as a replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton as US Secretary of State.

"We will do whatever is necessary to block the nomination that's within our power as far as Susan Rice is concerned," Sen. John McCain, the top GOP senator on the Armed Services Committee, the Associated Press reported.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added "I don't trust her."

"If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama told reporters at Wednesday's press conference.

"And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the UN ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous."

The senators have criticized Rice's response to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121114/obama-defends-un-ambassador-susan-rice-state