Fox News contributor Karl Rove is warning Republicans that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might be “happy” to get criticized over Benghazi, comparing it to how President Obama supposedly “loved” birther attacks. Rove's declaration comes after years of trying to use the 2012 attacks to bludgeon a potential Clinton presidential bid.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House committee investigating the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, told reporters earlier this week that Clinton is willing to testify before the committee. Clinton previously testified before House and Senate committees in January 2013.
Rove discussed Clinton's willingness to testify on the January 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. When asked by host Bill O'Reilly what would be Clinton's biggest weakness, Rove replied “foreign policy” and pointed to several alleged failures but did not initially mention Benghazi.
O'Reilly then noted that Clinton now “wants to testify about Benghazi and get that all clear.” Rove responded that Benghazi “could be a problem” but “I'm beginning to suspect that Mrs. Clinton might have been happy to let the Benghazi thing go forward” in the same way that President Obama “loved having conservatives talk about” his birth certificate. Rove added: “She's really, if you get into, isolated, insulated from it.” From the segment:
O'REILLY: All right. But you know that that's not on the minds of the American people. That's not even in the top five in the general foreign policy arena. Terrorism is but not foreign policy. And the other thing is Mrs. Clinton has said that now she wants to testify about Benghazi and get that all clear.
ROVE: Yeah, look. Benghazi could be a problem. My sense is this is sort of like potentially like President Obama. And remember how he let all this conversation go about how he was not really born in the United States of America and it took him years before he finally put it out? He loved having conservatives talk about it.
I'm beginning to suspect that Mrs. Clinton might have been happy to let the Benghazi thing go forward and the controversy to be there because she has some asbestos. She's really, if you get into, isolated, insulated from it, I don't know. But the overall picture of foreign policy is going to be difficult for her to defend the record.
Rove's statement comes after years of attempts to make Benghazi a political liability for Clinton.
His super PAC American Crossroads released a May 2013 video attacking Clinton for purportedly lying over Benghazi and being part of “a cover-up.”
During a February 16, 2014, appearance on Fox News Sunday, Rove said Benghazi “will be a big deal” for Clinton because “there are lots of unanswered questions” and “they're not going to go away.”
In a February 27, 2014, column for The Wall Street Journal, Rove wrote that “The Obama administration and Mrs. Clinton desperately want Benghazi to go away, and the mainstream media continues ignoring it.”
On April 30, 2014, Rove appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and claimed Clinton “may be stepping back from this. She may be trying to put a little distance” from the Obama administration on Benghazi. He added Benghazi “should” hurt her in a presidential run and “I would not be surprised in the years ahead if we saw her or her people suddenly exercise themselves of that option by saying to the press, 'look we agree with you, the White House, the Obama White House mishandled this thing.'”
In his May 29, 2014, column for The Wall Street Journal, Rove wrote that Clinton's record “be a problem” if she runs for president since her “international record consists of debacles, disasters and missteps, including” on Benghazi.
Conservatives have used Benghazi as a prominent line of attack against Clinton. A Media Matters report found that Fox's evening lineup ran 105 segments attempting to link Benghazi to Hillary Clinton's potential presidential campaign between September 11, 2012 and May 2, 2014.
Rove is not the first prominent conservative to suggest attacking Clinton over Benghazi is a poor strategy. Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote on January 27 that the Obama administration messed up on Benghazi but “that is the least of our problems” and suggested Republicans “shut down the Benghazi committee” and investigate other alleged foreign policy failures.