TODAY   |  November 28, 2012

GOP senators criticize Rice after meeting her

Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte are criticizing Susan Rice, President Obama’s probable pick to take over as secretary of state, who acknowledged she was wrong on a key fact days after the attack on the U.S .consulate in Benghazi, Libya. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>> now to washington where ambassador susan rice holds more meetings with lawmakers on capitol hill , and it is becoming clear that a showdown is looming if rice is the president's pick to replace secretary of state hillary clinton . nbc's foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has the details on that. andrea, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. white house officials say president obama still plans to nominate susan rice as secretary of state and democrats are confident they will have the votes to confirm her in the senate if she's nominated but top senate republicans are not backing down from their opposition. susan rice returns to capitol hill today for another day of republican outreach. this time with senator susan collins of maine and bob corker of tennessee. but rice's fence mending stalled as she submitted to a grilling over benghazi by her republican critics who had this to say.

>> we're significantly troubled by the answers we got and some we didn't get.

>> bottom line, i'm more disturbed than i was before.

>> reporter: rice acknowledged she was wrong on key facts when she went on five morning programs and said benghazi was a copycat attack after protests in egypt.

>> what happened in benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo.

>> reporter: tuesday rice acknowledged there was no protest in benghazi , but she blamed the cia, as she did last week.

>> i relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community . i made clear that the information was preliminary.

>> reporter: acting cia director mike morel accompanied rice tuesday, in effect her wing man, but it didn't help.

>> i'm more troubled today knowing, having met with the acting director of the cia and ambassador rice.

>> reporter: both senator kelly ayotte and senator lindsey graham threatened to block rice's nomination. rice did persuade one senator.

>> she said what she believed was true, and she was under no political influence from the white house .

>> reporter: but joe leaieberman is quitting the senate and won't have a vote rice and president obama are closer than he and the iconic hillary clinton . the president has made it clear he will fight for rice and tuesday the white house was not backing down.

>> the focus on, some obsession on comments made on sunday shows, seems to me and to many to be misplaced.

>> reporter: one veteran former diplomat says rice should not be made a scapegoat for doing her job.

>> she was simply representing the viewpoint of an entire administration, and many of us have been in positions of defending administrations, republican and democrat in the past.

>> reporter: and there's still another problem now. the acting cia director who accompanied rice late tuesday acknowledged he had misspoken during his morning meeting with the three senators only add together administration's problem is a the president tries to assemble a foreign policy team for his second term. savannah.

>> andrea mitchell in washington, thank