Nightly News   |  January 24, 2013

John Kerry grilled on Benghazi

During an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama’s nominee for secretary of state Sen. John Kerry faced tough questions. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>> back on capitol hill today, though this time to introduce the man nominated to replace her. massachusetts senator john kerry testifying before the very same committee he chairs, receiving quite a different welcome than the one she received 24 hours earlier. our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell , in our d.c. newsroom tonight with more. andrea, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the son of a diplomat, raised partly at u.s. embassies abroad, even republicans said john kerry has lived his whole life preparing to be secretary of state. what a difference a day makes. a day after hillary clinton was grilled about benghazi, she was back to join the same senators in lavishing praise on her presumed successor.

>> john is the right choice to carry forward the obama administration's foreign policy . and i urge his speedy confirmation.

>> if you confirm me, i would take office as secretary, proud that the senate is in my blood. but equally proud that so too is the foreign service .

>> reporter: john mccain and kerry forged close bonds over vietnam . both naval officers , mccain was imprisoned. kerry returned to testify against the war in 1971 . his first appearance before this committee.

>> how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in vietnam ?

>> reporter: decades later, they united as senators to resolve p.o.w. issues and normalize relations with vietnam .

>> working toward that end with john and witnessing almost daily his exemplary statesmanship is one of the highest privileges i've had here.

>> reporter: today, they do have differences. mccain is more willing to arm the rebels in syria.

>> i think we ought to tell the syrian people that we're either going to help them or we're not.

>> if you have a complete implosion of the state, nobody has clearer definition of how you put those pieces back together.

>> reporter: he and others also pressed kerry on benghazi.

>> are you willing to work with me or do you basically kind of agree hillary clinton that that's kind of yesterday's news and let's move on?

>> well, senator, if you're trying to get some daylight between me and secretary clinton, that's not going to happen here today.

>> reporter: kerry promised to stress economic issues, climate change and stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon .

>> we will do what we must do to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon . and i repeat here today, our policy is not containment. it is prevention. and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.

>> reporter: and there's this. if sworn in next week as expected, kerry would be the first man to be secretary of state in eight years. brian?

>> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom tonight with that footnote, thanks.