Obama Defends Susan Rice Against GOP Criticism

President Obama today defended United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice against criticism from Senate Republicans, saying she is "extraordinary."

Speaking during a brief photo-op with reporters at the start of a Cabinet meeting, the president was asked if Rice is being treated unfairly by lawmakers who say they have lingering questions about her comments following the September terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

"Susan Rice is extraordinary," Obama responded, with Rice just a few seats away at the other end of the table. "I couldn't be prouder of the job she's done."

Rice, who is believed to be a top contender for Secretary of State, continues to face opposition from Republicans, even after she spent two days in meetings on Capitol Hill trying to assuage their concerns.

Update from ABC's Dana Hughes at the State Department:

Rice also got some defense from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, when Clinton spoke to reporters about Benghazi.

"Let me just say first of all Susan Rice has done a great job as our ambassador to the UN," Clinton said.

Clinton didn't explicitly mention Rice's possible nomination as her replacement but said that it's the President's prerogative to nominate the next Secretary of State, but that she's "very grateful that the President has that chance."

When asked why the White House did not put Clinton, instead of Rice, out to talk about Benghazi on the Sunday talk shows back in September, Clinton demurred saying that she was "not going to offer any hypothetical explanations"

Clinton said that her responsibility was to appoint the Accountability Review Board to investigate, which she did. She said she hopes the board will finish soon and once the report is out, she will be able to address the situation in it's entirety.