President Obama came to the heated defense of UN Ambassador Susan Rice -- whom Republican Sens. Lindsay Graham and John McCain have vowed to block -- should she be nominated as Secretary of State.
Republicans have been critical of Rice's performance on Sunday talk shows after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya -- but Obama said she's done "exemplary work" and has represented the U.S. with "skill, and professionalism, and toughness, and grace."
He said her appearance was at the request of the White House and that she provided "her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her.
"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham, and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama charged. "For them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi? And was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received? And to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. And, you know, we're after an election now."