President Obama Defends Rice in Face of GOP Opposition
President Barack Obama is defending U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the aftermath of the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya and calling Republican criticism of her outrageous.
At a White House news conference Wednesday, Obama pushed back against GOP senators who said they would do whatever is necessary to scuttle Rice's nomination if the president picks her to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The president said if Sen. John McCain wants to go after someone, he should challenge the president, not Rice.
McCain told reporters earlier Wednesday that he would do all he could to block a Rice nomination.
Sen. Lindsey Graham said he didn't trust Rice.
Meanwhile, Obama says there is still time for the United States and Iran to resolve an impasse over Iran's nuclear program.
Obama said there should be a way for Iran to enjoy "peaceful nuclear power" while still meeting international obligations and providing assurances that they are not developing nuclear weapons.
Obama said he "can't promise that Iran will walk through the door they need to walk through," but he wants to see a diplomatic solution.
Iran is weighing a more confrontational strategy over its nuclear program, threatening to boost levels of uranium enrichment unless the West agrees to ease sanctions that have harmed Iran's economy.
The White House has indicated willingness to pursue one-on-one talks with Iran, but no deal has been reached.
And - Obama says he's encouraged the Syrian opposition has formed a new, more representative leadership council. But he says the U.S. isn't ready to recognize the group as a "government in exile" or to arm it.
Obama said the U.S. believes that the new council is "a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people."
But he says his administration isn't prepared to recognize the group as a successor to Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
Obama also says the U.S. isn't currently considering sending weapons to Assad foes because of concerns the arms might fall into the hands of extremists and damage regional security.
On Tuesday, France became the first Western country to formally recognize the new opposition coalition. (AP)