WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is defending U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the aftermath of the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya and calling Republican criticism of her “outrageous.”

At a White House news conference Wednesday, Obama pushed back against Republican senators who say they will do whatever is necessary to block Rice’s nomination if the president picks her to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

Obama said if Sen. John McCain wants to go after someone, he should challenge the president, not Rice.

The senators cite Rice’s comments five days after the Libya attack that it was the result of protests against an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S.

McCain said Rice should have known that it was a terrorist attack.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.