May 11th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
3 months ago

DNC chairwoman: GOP using Benghazi to 'gin up their base' ahead of midterms

(CNN) – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Republicans are digging up the issue of the 2012 attack in Benghazi to drive turnout this election year.

Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday that as the issue of health care fails rile up their base, House Republicans are refocusing their attention on the assault that left four Americans dead, including the ambassador to Libya.

"The bottom line here is that the Republicans have clearly lost the ability because we've had such a precipitous drop among Republicans even in their fervor for repealing the Affordable Care Act," said Schultz, D-Florida. "They are clearly doing this to drive their turnout and gin up their base."

The issue of Benghazi resurfaced with new partisan vigor last week when the Republican-led House voted to form a select committee to investigate the attack. Democrats remain undecided on whether they will participate in the committee.

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Schultz appeared Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" with Rep. Michele Bachmann, a conservative from Minnesota who ran for president in 2012.

"The big question on many people's minds is, where did this false narrative come from, to blame a video rather than the terrorist actions of Ansar al-Sharia, which were evident on the ground," Bachmann said. "So I think that what this committee is doing is taking a very careful look at a very deliberate pace to go through depositions and people on the ground to find out the truth of what happened. That's all people want is the truth."

The Obama administration first linked the attack to protests sparked by an anti-Muslim film produced in the United States, which had incited violence in other regions at the time. However, it was later revealed to be a coordinated terrorist attack.

Republicans contend that the Obama administration failed to properly secure the compound, neglected to send military assets to try to save the besieged Americans and then tried to cover up what happened by pushing a misleading narrative to the media in the days that followed.

A USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll released last week shows that only 7% of Americans think security and terrorism are the most important issues facing the United States, far behind the 27% and 21% who cited jobs and health care, respectively.

USA today pew poll SOTU

Asked by Crowley whether Republicans’ hammering on this issue could backfire or seem out of step with Americans’ priorities, Bachmann said, "People can walk and chew gum at the same time."

The poll results, Bachmann said, "(don’t) diminish the fact that we need to have answers about what happened on that fateful night with four Americans who lost their lives."

"It's really clear that the Democrats have tried to sabotage this process from the very beginning. We shouldn't do that when we have unanswered questions about four people who've died."

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Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Hmm!

    Looks like the piranha got a face lift, too bad it didn't help her brain.

    May 11, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    We should drop all these GOP CLOWNS over in Banghazi to do their FAKE investagation IN PERSON , so they can get the REAL AnSWERS if THEY LIVE LONG ENOUGH??????

    May 11, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. JJJ88

    Like how the Dems used the wars in the middle east to get money?

    May 11, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. Liz the First

    Two things to remember about this faux scandal. A lot more people in the diplomatic service died on George the Lesser's watch. and it was the republicans who cut funding for embassy security. i love it when repugs show such concern for the results of problems they caused. likd John McCain lamenting the problems with the VA. if the rethugs weren't so determined to bankrupt the government, maybe our vets would be getting the care they need when they need it.

    May 11, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. MaryM

    "GOP using Benghazi to 'gin up their base' ahead of midterms" Yep, that is exactly what the GOP is doing and the Majority of Americans know it!

    May 11, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. labman57

    Darrell Issa and his Republican cohort have made a concerted effort to harm the Democratic Party's chances to regain the House this Fall by throwing a myriad of faux scandals and phantom conspiracies against the wall, hoping that something will stick.

    So currently their focus is on Benghazi ... as Issa and Gowdy hold it against the wall with two hands, anxiously awaiting for someone to find a glue gun.

    May 11, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. ChrisM

    "Republicans contend that the Obama administration failed to properly secure the compound, neglected to send military assets to try to save the besieged Americans and then tried to cover up what happened by pushing a misleading narrative to the media in the days that followed."

    Sorry repubs, the transcripts from the Benghazi hearings are online for everyone to read. which proves your above statement is false.

    May 11, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Gunderson

    Well Debbie,
    Old Gunderson have Hip Boots on.

    May 11, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Fred Beloit

    The GOP killed four Americans to win an election. Dems seek to hide that fact. Sure, sure. /s

    May 11, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. rs

    The GOP really has a problem with reality. 12 different commissions from Congress have examined "Benghazi" for nearly 2 years. Have they found anything? No. They have spent almost a half a $billion to get there. This is like their (now approaching 60) "symbolic" votes to end the ACA. Yup, its still there and it works!

    Perhaps if they click their red slippers together and wish reeaaallllyy hard, they'll get their way. Meanwhile to the real world, they look like the fools they are.

    May 11, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Bessy

    MaryM
    "GOP using Benghazi to 'gin up their base' ahead of midterms" Yep, that is exactly what the GOP is doing and the Majority of Americans know it!

    You are right. Every time something looks good for this administration they try using Benghazi again. They are so afraid that Hilary is going to run that they also keep using it hoping people will blame her for it. Really, they are such losers. Lets hope enough Americans get out and vote and show them exactly where all of their nonsence has taken them.

    May 11, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. JC

    While I don't disagree that the GOP is using Benghazi as a war cry for November, there are several aspects of what happened during and after the attack that still bug me. The lack of response for one. The nearest assets were 8 hours away, and the attack lasted 8 hours, but there was no way in the first few hours to know how long the terrorists could be held off. What if they could have stayed alive for 24 hours? The decision was made not to send help with no known knowledge of how long the attack was going to last. Second, the CIA agents involved were never allowed to be questioned together. The state department intentionally kept them separate for months so that there was no continuous dialogue. Those are the questions that need to be answered. I don't care that the administration used the video to guard foreign policy perception. I care more about why the decisions were made in the heat of the moment.

    May 11, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Benghazi is the new ACA for Republicans. Over fourty votes to repeal? Over fourty commissions to investigate!! Why don't you Republicans clowns try doing something POSITIVE for America for a change!

    May 11, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    "where did this false narrative come from, to blame a video rather than the terrorist actions of Ansar al-Sharia, which were evident on the ground," Bachmann said. "

    This 'narrative' was initiated or repeated by international press, including Time magazine and the AP. it does not take another House investigation to determine that.

    if the repugs are going to use this issue continuously for their campaigning, at some point they need to compensate the American taxpayers for the cost. Or even face charges for using Government funds and facilities for campaign-related endeavors. Where is Holder when we need him??

    May 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. don in albuquerque

    Was there a cover up, oh, probably. And it probably wasn't the president or Hillary in charge of it. It has been pretty conclusively shown that it was indeed not a consulate......it was a CIA operation. The two former Seals killed were in fact CIA operatives. Only seven of the staff members worked for the State Dept, and rest were CIA. Those seven would be Hillary's people. Do you really believe that the CIA is going to answer anyone's questions completely? Do you really believe they will answer questions honestly? Show me an honest spy and I'll show you a dead one.

    May 11, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Dee

    I just want to say what I am hearing and it is the GOP had better get it right because their only goal is to discredit this President and wants to impeach him and this has been the ugly rhetoric coming from these people for a long time, they have done nothing for the poor and middle class. This president is finally turning the economy around with no help from them, the American people are not stupid and if they think for once that people are going to sit back and do nothing, they are sadly mistaken. If they impeach him I am hearing that their will be so much unrest in this country they will think it is a 3rd world war.

    This is the 21st century and that old southern mentality will not work with this younger generation and a good example is that southern guy that Boehner selected to lead the investigation. The republicans are traveling down a dangerous road when time should be spent on making the American people lives better that's what they were sent there to do.

    .What is appalling is that they would call John Kerry, the Secretary of State who is busy with conflicts in the world to testify, now you know where their priorities are. SHAME, SHAME.

    May 11, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. len

    Dear CNN,
    Will we ever ask CIA director, at the time, Petraus what was the CIA operation? Why was the ambassador there? Who did he meet with? Why are we not asking these questions? Petraus was involved....only CIA folks there....do your job and ask these questions.

    May 11, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. don in albuquerque

    Don't forget they have already started using it as a major fund raiser.

    May 11, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  19. Malory Archer

    JJJ88
    Like how the Dems used the wars in the middle east to get money?

    ++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except no. The wars that the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue started in the ME were a REAL issue basedon lies. Benghazi is an unfortunate tragedy, and to raise $$$ off of an unfortunate tragedy is ghoulish to say the least.

    May 11, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. sloppyslim

    there comes a point when
    naive , innocent , gullible ignorance
    becomes
    willful blindness

    at that point , innocence surrenders to evil for the sake of the goal

    May 11, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. don in albuquerque

    len
    No we will not because good ole David Petraeus is a GOTP darling. Besides he'd just declare "National Security" which in essence would end these ridiculous hearings. That the GOTP does not want. The truth is so far from what they want it might as well be "that great gettin' up morning."

    May 11, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. nintex

    If the republicans weren't so afraid of Hillary Clinton becoming our next president, they would never have had to learn how to pronounce and repeat the word "Ben – Gah- Zee." The story would have been in the news for a few weeks and then forgotten, like all the other embassy bombings that went on during Bush's administration. They're going to look like fools when this is over.

    May 11, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. The Elephant in the Room

    Republicans will do this type of thing. They have no steak to sell the thinking person. They only have sizzling fat to push off on the base. The Democrats need to get cutthroat about things though. Mr. Obama need to win his THIRD TERM by working to EXHAUSTION to geet Democratic voter turnout to POTUS election year levels. I don`t know why he isnt telling Americans what he wants to accomplish on IMMIGRATION reform, on TAX reform [for the middle class], on a livable wage for two-income minimum wage earning families. He then needs to make the clear point that Republicans will pick up house & Senate seats in 2014 UNLESS the Democratic coalition turns out. He need to say, EXPLICITLY that his effectiveness on TEIR [the common citizen`s] agenga items can be secure from 2014 to 2016 if they make the effort in November. Mr. Obama should set a NEW STANDARD for off year campaigning. Instead of laying back and being all "Presidential", he needs to act like he is fighting for his very life. That plus a 2016 victory by Democrats would go a long way toward improving America.

    May 11, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  24. Retired Navy and Proud Patriot

    Wow, the more progressive comments I read the more I am convinced, the progressive liberal wing nuts are scared.

    May 11, 2014 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. g

    how many died because of the Iraq LIE

    May 11, 2014 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
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