Though they won’t have any say over the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, several members of the Tennessee congressional delegation have made it clear who they do not want as the face of U.S. foreign policy-American U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
Rice, whom Obama has said he has considered for the post, has faced mounting criticism for her appearance on news talk shows in the days following September’s attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, when she described it as a “spontaneous response” to a YouTube video.
On Monday, 97 Republican members of Congress signed a letter to the president, expressing that they were “deeply troubled” at the prospect of Rice’s nomination.
Among representatives from Tennessee to sign the letter were Reps. Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais, Stephen Fincher and Phil Roe.
Neither Reps. Chuck Fleischmann nor Jimmy Duncan lent their signatures to the letter, which said Rice’s statements had caused “irreparable damage” to her credibility.
“Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter,” the letter reads. “Her actions plausibly give U.S. allies (and rivals) a broad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed. Thus, we believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy in your second term would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world and continue to build trust with the American people.”
The House members are not the only Tennessee Republicans to voice criticism over a potential Rice appointment. Last week, Sen. Bob Corker was quotedas describing Rice’s comments as being “beyond belief.”
Alek Vey, press secretary for Fleischmann, said the 3rd District congressman thought Rice would be a “poor choice” for the position, despite his not signing the letter.
“Despite the fact that our intelligence personnel were well aware that the attack on our Benghazi consulate was a coordinated assault by terrorist groups, Ambassador Rice went on TV and attempted to mislead the American people into thinking the attack was the result of a protest gone wrong,” Vey said. “In light of these statements, Rep. Fleischmann thinks that Ambassador Rice would be a poor choice as secretary of state. Under the Constitution, however, it is up to the Senate to confirm or reject her, not the House of Representatives.”
Obama is expected to announce his nomination for secretary of state in the coming weeks.