Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
GOP ready to push Benghazi case into 2014, beyond
First Published May 11 2013 02:30 pm • Last Updated May 11 2013 02:30 pm

Washington • Steady drips of information about a horrific night in Libya are fueling Republican arguments and ads designed to fire up the conservative base and undercut the Democrats’ early favorite for president in 2016.

Strategists in both parties disagree on the issue’s power to influence elections next year and beyond. But after eight months of trying, Democrats are still struggling to move past the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last Sept. 11 that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Democrats insist that an independent inquiry, the dismissal of several State Department officials, and nine congressional hearings leave little new to say on the matter. But Friday turned up the sort of nuggets that feed conservative activists’ belief that a major scandal may be at hand.

Newly revealed communications show that senior State Department officials pressed for changes in the talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used a few days after the Benghazi attacks. These senior officials expressed concerns that Congress might criticize the Obama administration for ignoring warnings of a growing threat in Libya.

The White House has contended it only made stylistic changes to the intelligence agency talking points, in which Rice suggested that spontaneous protests over an anti-Islamic video set off the deadly attack. The new details suggest a greater degree of political sensitivity and involvement by the White House and State Department.

Rice and others eventually acknowledged that the Benghazi assault was a premeditated terrorist attack. Republicans say her Sept. 16 televised remarks were just the start of administration efforts to mislead Americans about what happened.

The incident was heavily politicized from the start, occurring less than two months before President Barack Obama’s re-election and while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state.

The former New York senator and first lady, who infuriates many conservatives, ranks high in speculation about Democrats in the hunt for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Friday brought a fresh round of conservative broadsides against Clinton, Obama and the administration’s handling of the Benghazi matter.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a possible Republican presidential contender, wrote in The Washington Times restating his view that Obama should have fired Clinton.


story continues below
story continues below

Campaigning later in Iowa, Paul said he thinks the attack "precludes Hillary Clinton from ever holding office."

The conservative group American Crossroads released a 90-second video asking if Clinton was "part of a cover-up." The video, like emails and letters from several other groups, asked for political donations.

Benghazi hands Republicans some political opportunities, although none without complications. It may be difficult for average voters to sift through the chronology, assess blame or even follow the logic of GOP arguments.

For instance, claims that Clinton and others ignored calls for greater diplomatic security in Libya might be linked to the four American deaths.

But accusations about the post-attack talking points, which sometimes seem to dominate the current debate, have nothing to do with possibly preventing the deaths, thus robbing them of that moral heft.

Democrats note that an independent inquiry found that the State Department badly mishandled security needs in Libya. But it blamed officials no higher than the assistant secretary of state level.

Republican strategist Kyle Downey said Benghazi has exposed a trove of Democratic vulnerabilities, which might grow as inquiries continue.

He said Republicans should use the findings to challenge the competence, truthfulness and judgment of Clinton, Obama and other administration officials.

Republicans, Downey said, should let the politics play out in terms of which charges gain the most traction.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.