WASHINGTON – Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., on Wednesday criticized U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for comments she made in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Republicans, particularly Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have criticized Rice for her characterizing the attack as a spontaneous reaction to an inflammatory video, rather than as a planned terrorist attack. Rice is a possible nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
Nelson said Rice should have stressed that early reports of such incidents are almost always wrong, rather than speaking with such authority.
"She wasn't cautionary and that was a mistake on her part," Nelson said during his weekly conference call with reporters.
He rejected the suggestion, however, that the Obama administration tried to cover up the situation.
"There was a lack of care and caution in the remarks, to be quite candid, (but) I don't see a cover-up," Nelson said.
He said the whole thing seems to be much ado about nothing and took a swipe at the Republicans going after Rice.
"Look, we have a bunch of people who didn't get over the last election in 2008. Why do we expect that they're going to get over the election in 2012?" Nelson said.
Nelson also was asked about negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff" and said he's not hopeful that a compromise will be worked out in time.
"I don't see how it gets done, quite honestly, but I don't want to be a naysayer in case somehow we're able to put something together," Nelson said.
Nelson, who is retiring at the end of the year, said he still hasn't determined his plans for post-Senate life.
But he also says he doesn't expect to take a long break.
"I'm not one who lets a lot of time lapse between events, and so I'm ready to move right on," Nelson said. "I'll take a breather later."