An African diplomat confirmed to ABC News that Rice aggressively questioned recent U.N. investigative reports highlighting the Rwandan government's continued role in helping fuel the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rice downplayed the findings though outside Africa policy experts, even within the administration, corroborated the evidence presented.
She delivered a glowing, emotional tribute to Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi following his death, calling him "an uncommon leader, a rare visionary, and a true friend to me and many." But Zenawi, while an ally to the United States, ordered the deaths of more than 100 peaceful protesters after the 2005 elections and jailed human rights activists and journalists -- including two Swedish journalists for two years -- for reporting negative stories.
Despite similar stories like this about Rice and her diplomacy on the continent, she has defenders who cite her introduction of programs that stressed investment over aid to the continent.
John Prendergrast, the head of the Enough Project who served with Rice in the Clinton administration, defended the ambassador's policies in a Daily Beast article, calling the criticism "surreal."
"The implication that Ambassador Rice -- who continues to work diligently on the Congo issue -- is somehow motivated to protect President Kagame because of guilt over the genocide or other theories is insulting," Prendergast wrote.
But one of the world's pre-eminent Congo experts, Jason Stearns, said he was opposed to Rice's possible nomination because, in his opinion, her approach to the decades-old crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo showed that her policies "lack nuance."
"She is guilty of myopia, shortsightedness and a lack of nuance," said Stearns.
Before her tenure as senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council, Rice tried her hand in the private sector as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company, and before that she served Massachusetts Democrat Michael Dukakis as a foreign policy aide during his 1988 run for president.
She is a Rhodes Scholar, Stanford graduate and native of Washington, D.C.