TODAY | November 15, 2012
>> first, chuck todd is at the white house this morning. chuck, good morning to you.
>> reporter: good morning, matt. president obama thought he was going to be using his first post election press conference to make his case on the fiscal cliff and also to show a new reaching out to republicans. instead, he found himself on the receiving end of criticism from not one, but two former presidential rivals.
>> good afternoon, everybody.
>> reporter: at his first post election press conference, president obama reiterated his pledge to sit down with mitt romney , even offering him praise.
>> there are certain aspects of governor romney 's record and his ideas that i think could be very helpful.
>> reporter: but while the president was paying him compliments, mitt romney was telling donors on a conference call a different story. romney said he was sorry we didn't win and he blamed his defeat on gifts the president had given to his most loyal voters, including african-americans, young voters, and hispanics. mr. romney said the president followed the old play book and with regards to the young people , for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift, adding free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. as for the hispanic voters, romney said free health care was a big plus. another former opponent of the president, john mccain along with lindsey graham made it clear they would not support susan rice to become the new secretary of state.
>> we will do whatever is necessary to block the nomination.
>> their chief gripe, they believe she disqualified herself several days after the benghazi attack with her explanation of what happened.
>> our current assessment is what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations of our facility in cairo.
>> i don't trust her. and the reason i don't trust her is because i think she knew better and if she didn't know better, she shouldn't be the voice of america .
>> a visibly angry president obama fired back at both senators and defending his ambassador.
>> if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. but for them to p go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received and it's outrageous.
>> but mccain decided not to let the president have the last word and raced to the senate floor to respond.
>> if the president thinks we are picking on people, he really does not have any idea of how serious this issue is. we're not picking on anybody.
>> reporter: the president did make some news on the fiscal cliff, matt, while he made an emphatic case for raising taxes on the most wealthy. he said he wasn't drawing a red line on the idea they knew tax rates had to go back to 39%. so he did leave some wiggle room there.
>> all right, chuck. thank you