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Moderate GOP senator voices doubts on Susan Rice

WASHINGTON -- A moderate Republican senator said Wednesday she couldn't back a nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of state until more questions are answered about the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Libya and Rice's State Department role before the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Kenya.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is considered vital to any White House hopes of getting Rice confirmed. But Collins emerged from a 90-minute, closed-door meeting with the ambassador voicing new criticism of her initial account about Libya.

Collins also questioned what Rice, the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs in the Clinton administration, knew about requests for enhanced embassy security before the Kenya truck bombing.

Pressed on how she would vote if President Barack Obama names Rice to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Collins said, "I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination."

Collins said she was troubled by Rice's "political role" in downplaying the Libya attack as a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video rather than a terrorist attack in Sunday talk show appearances five days after the attack.

On Tuesday, three other GOP senators -- Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire -- said they would try to block a Rice nomination. -- AP

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