Dems Bite Back on Benghazi

"I'm sorry our friend from California -- our other friend from California, Mr. Rohrabacher, takes umbrage at the comparison of McCarthyism but smears and character assassination, judgment before all the facts are in is McCarthyism," Connolly shot back, decrying a House letter from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) circulating in opposition to a Rice nomination due to her Benghazi muddling.

"That's not an honest inquiry and that's an attempt to besmirch, in my opinion, the reputation of very talented and capable public servants and I want no part of it," Connolly continued. "And when we do that, and I understand why Mr. Rohrabacher might be upset, but he invites -- not he personally -- one invites the kind of reaction you will get from this side of the aisle."

"If it wasn't about money, if it wasn't about budgetary cuts, why would we continue to put our ambassador at risk in an area that we took our security support team, special ops people, it wasn't about the money, and we replaced them with $4 an hour Libyan nationals -- who were unarmed, by the way," said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.).

Ros-Lehtinen noted that more than two months after the attack, the State Department has failed to follow up on the GAO recommendation that they perform a strategic review of diplomatic security.

"Our front-line diplomats should be secure in the knowledge that the United States government will provide for their safety while they carry out their duties on behalf of our country," she said. "Safety must not be sacrificed on the altar of vague and uncertain agendas or other pet projects from climate change, to bailouts, to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, whose value is questionable. Our diplomatic personnel deserve no less."

Outside of today's hearings, one group of Democrats issued a statement calling Rice an "American treasure" and demanding GOPs back off.

Democratic women in the House will hold a news conference Friday morning to defend Rice.

“I am joining my colleagues in calling for an end to the scapegoating of Ambassador Susan Rice,” said D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). “In a hearing by one of my committees on Benghazi, we got the documented intelligence that Ambassador Rice relied on from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Ambassador Patrick Kennedy testified that this was the same intelligence that he relied on, as well. Yet convincing evidence did not sway Republicans from partisan attacks. Ambassador Rice should not need to be defended, but I will be happy to stand with my colleagues to do so.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote an op-ed published this evening on the Huffington Post lashing out at her Republican colleagues for "hurtful rhetoric" about Rice.

"She was not spinning. She was not twisting the truth. She was simply being forthcoming with the best information available at the time. And for that, she is now being viciously attacked by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham," Boxer wrote. "This treatment stands in stark contrast with their vocal support of Condoleezza Rice who -- unlike Susan Rice -- deliberately misrepresented intelligence."

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Rice isn't responsible for the talking points given to her by others.

"There's always a certain amount of scapegoating that goes on in this town," he said. "…That's not her fault. That's whatever intelligence agencies gave her that information."

Republican senators canvassed news shows to convey that a Rice nomination faces a real filibuster threat in the upper chamber.

"I think her nomination should be held until questions are answered as to why she would do that on every major news network. I also raise the question based on the president's news conference he said she didn't have anything to do with Benghazi," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). "Why would she or the administration send her on every major news network to put out a certain narration of what happened when it wasn't the case?"

"I would oppose her, unless she has some logical explanation," McCain said on Fox. "I will listen to anybody tell their side of the story. But clearly right now, I would be opposed because the American people were told false information by her at the direction of the White House."

"I have nothing against anybody, but do I have a desire to get to the truth. And I am going to hold this president accountable, Susan Rice and others for what I think is a national security breakdown of monumental proportions," Graham said on Fox.

"What did Ambassador Rice know? Why is that what she knew? And why was she the person sent out to represent the administration?" Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said on CNN. "The president doubled down on this yesterday by essentially saying she had the information we wanted to convey and she was representing him, and so let's talk about him."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, told CNN he's "not ready to make a decision on it."

"I mean, the person who decided to have no marines guarding the ambassador should be fired. I mean, just plain and simple. But I don't know if that's Susan Rice," he said. "I think we get involved with Ambassador Rice when we're getting off subject."

"President Obama has the gall to float the name as possible secretary of state the name of the person who is the actual vehicle used to misinform the American people during this crisis," Rohrabacher said. "The arrogance and dishonesty reflected in all of this is a little bit breathtaking, and it's about time that the president of the United States decide to level with the American people."