Republican lawmakers, led by Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, aggressively criticized Rice for her statements on Benghazi, calling her unqualified and untrustworthy. MCain said she was ‘‘not being very bright’’ in her comments.
That comment in particular provoked the ire of a dozen House Democratic women, who leapt to Rice’s defense and accused McCain and Graham of being motivated by sexism and racism. Rice never publicly agreed with their assessment.
In the aftermath of her withdrawal, other Democratic women lamented that they hadn’t done more to assist Rice as the criticism mounted.
‘‘The thing about Susan Rice that really bothers me, the women’s groups, the civil rights groups, we should have stood up more,’’ said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, on MSNBC.
While Obama and others in the administration vigorously defended Rice, the White House never appointed a team to coordinate the administration’s response to the criticism, in large part because Rice was not an official nominee.
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