June 2nd, 2014
01:14 PM ET
7 years ago

What's behind stepped up GOP attacks on Clinton

Washington (CNN) - The 2016 presidential election's some 2 1/2 years away. Even the unofficial start of the next race for the White House is still five months away. Yet Hillary Clinton has been, and remains, the object of Republicans' obsession.

Much of their criticism of the former secretary of state focuses on the September 11, 2012, attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. The incident - the first time a U.S. ambassador had been killed on duty in more than 30 years - happened during Clinton's watch as America's top diplomat.

[twitter-follow screen_name='psteinhausercnn'][twitter-follow screen_name='danmericacnn']

Now, with the much anticipated release of Clinton's memoir, "Hard Choices," just a week away, GOP attacks have increased.

Last week the chapter of the book that deals with Benghazi was leaked. As reported by Politico, the chapter highlights Clinton's defense of how she responded to the attack, as well as criticism of Republicans who Clinton says play politics with the deadly assault.

The pro-GOP opposition research shop America Rising is going up with an e-book titled "Failed Choices," which will be available on Amazon just as "Hard Choices" hits the bookshelves.

The e-book, which describes Clinton's memoir as political spin about her tenure as secretary of state, is a critique of her record at the State Department. The book, first reported by Politico's Maggie Haberman, who's also a CNN political analyst, has a chapter titled "Hillary's War: Libya and the Tragedy in Benghazi."

"We wanted to offer a frame for which people can view her tenure at the State Department that counters whatever spin she puts out on her Hard Choices tour. Hopefully it will be a resource for allies looking to discuss her tenure around the book tour in addition to something that cuts through the clutter for voters looking for a fact-based approach not 700 pages of fluff that papers over her failed record," America Rising executive director Tim Miller told CNN.

America Rising, formed early last year by a bunch of former top aides to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee, pings Clinton on a near daily basis, countering the numerous pro-Clinton groups that have sprouted up since she stepped down as secretary of state at the beginning of February 2013. Clinton has said she'll decide by the end of this year whether she'll run for the White House, and if she launches a campaign, she'll instantly become the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Once again, Clinton was a top topic on Sunday talk shows.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said Clinton "has been playing politics with this issue from the very beginning" and that her book preview is part of an "organized political defense."

Priebus added that Benghazi disqualifies Clinton from running for president, adding that "I think she gets an 'F' as Secretary of State. Whether it is Russia, Iran sanctions … and now obviously Benghazi."

Priebus: Book, Benghazi politics, help Clinton make money

Sen. Ted Cruz was in lockstep with Priebus in another interview, accusing Clinton of being "all politics all the time" and called the Benghazi chapter "pure political spin."

"(Clinton) is more focused on blaming the so-called vast right-wing conspiracy than on the terrorists. The truth shouldn't be partisan," Cruz said on ABC's "This Week."

A veteran GOP consultant says the early attacks on Clinton may pay dividends in the future.

"It makes complete sense that the GOP would be working to define Hillary Clinton and making sure that she remains connected to the Benghazi tragedies because of her responsibilities as former secretary of state," said Ron Bonjean, who served as a top strategist and adviser to then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert and was press secretary to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

Clinton tour about to kick off

Clinton will read and sign her memoirs at a Barnes and Noble in Manhattan on June 10, the day the book goes on sale. That event will kick off a coast to coast book tour that many people are saying could be an appetizer for the main course, a second Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

A source at America Rising said Hillary Clinton's book is "certainly the top priority for everyone on our 2016 team."

"For the first few days, we will primarily focus on systematically breaking each chapter down and aggressively fact checking and pushing back on statements we identify as misinformation," the source added. "The remainder of the effort will consist of bracketing her book tour."

America Rising is not alone. The Stop Hillary PAC will also devote considerable resources and attention to Clinton's book.

"It is clear she is trying to recreate her story and dictate what the public understand and believes about her, whether it is true or not," said Garrett Marquis, the group's spokesman.

The group plans to go after Clinton's book in a number of formats, including direct mail to supporters. Marquis said the book helps the group raise money, which in turn helps reach more people.

"This definitely galvanizes those people who are already supporting us," he added.

Clinton's defense

Clinton said earlier this year that Benghazi was her biggest regret during the four years she served as America's top diplomat.

"It was a terrible tragedy losing four Americans, two diplomats and now it is public so I can say two CIA operatives," Clinton said at a speech in New Orleans.

And in the chapter in her book on Benghazi, Clinton writes, "As Secretary I was the one ultimately responsible for my people's safety, and I never felt that responsibility more deeply than I did that day."

Clinton testified about the attack last year in front of House and Senate hearing. But Republicans say there are still questions left unanswered and the GOP-dominated House formed a select investigative committee on the attack.

Clinton, writing in "Hard Choices," appeared to suggest that she won't take part in the investigation or any of the committee's hearings.
"I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans," Clinton writes. "It's just plain wrong, and it's unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me," wrote Clinton.

Asked for comment on the new America Rising e-book, a Clinton spokesman deferred to the Democratic National Committee for comment.
DNC press secretary Michael Czin put out a statement saying, "the Obama Administration and Democrats are focused on making sure a tragedy like what happened in Benghazi never happens again.

"Republicans are obsessed with playing politics with that tragedy just to rally their far-right base," Czin added.

But Bonjean, the veteran GOP strategist, says the Republican game plan will continue.

"I think this is going to come in waves. These past few weeks have been one wave. It will subside for a while, and then come back. I don't think you're going to see Republicans ever week going after Hillary Clinton, but the need to keep her in the spotlight until she answers those questions is going to remain."

CNN's Ashley Killough, Leigh Ann Caldwell and CNN Senior Political Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this story.

Filed under: 2016 • GOP • Hillary Clinton • Republican
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. old age voter

    They are getting ready to try Clinton and Obama and a few more for treason for what happened in Benghazi!

    June 2, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    why is the left wing media and democrats so obsessed with ignoring and covering up hillary clinton's lies, incompetence and gross negligence with regards to benghazi? this is the woman who claimed obama was not ready for that 3am phone call but when it came for her, she was no where to be found and 4 americans died. and nobody knows what obama did a well.
    Actually, is probably more like a 3pm phone call. The Romney campaign was releasing an apology ad on the internet in time for the evening news cycle. Remember how he had jumped the gun? It started making noise about Obama not keeping the country safe before we learned that Amb. Stevens was likely dead. Remember that?

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. No one is going to release information regarding the whereabouts of the POTUS and his cabinet on the anniversary of 9/11. The cannot tell you for security reasons. Republicans know this well, but they keep asking anyway just to paint the picture that the administration is not cooperating with their "investigations."

    June 2, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Lolo

    They know that no one in their party can beat Hillary. She is a shoe in. The only way the republicans can win is by stopping the vote, which they are working hard at. Can you believe that the dummy Rick Perry of Texas is throwing his hat in the ring again. Now he says he was heavily medicated the first time. Excuses, Excuses!!!!! Lol. I guess Ms. Palin will jump in next. The GOP/TP Party is nothing but a party full of bigots, hypocrits and liars period.

    June 2, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. BeverlyNC

    The Republicans have nothing else to obsess about. She is the latest "hate" topic. First and still is "hating" President Obama regardless of what he accomplishes. Next was killing "Obamacare" so the People would have no access to healthcare and let the industry abuses continue. Then it has been one witch hunt after another. Egypt. Libya. Benghazi (where after multiple Issa hearings the answer has been over and over – no one was to blame and it could not have been prevented) but the looking for a scandal goes on while no legislation gets passed to benefit anyone.
    Republicans have no record to run except what they are against and how they spent no time in session even debating an issue but refusing to vote on it in the House or filibustering it in the Senate.
    They are desperate to survive and would not without the buying of elections by their new owners – the Koch brothers.
    How sad to be a Party who cannot win on merit but has to try to suppress the vote, false attack ads, outright lies, the need to destroy our democratic elections with money buys because they cannot win on a platform or a record of doing ANYTHING.
    We need to VOTE in November and get this do-nothing, hate-mongering, puppets of the Kochs out of office so real work can finally be done for the People!
    And yes, Hillary is already the only candidate qualified for President. She has it all and the Republicans have NO ONE. They can't even find qualified Senate candidates.

    June 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. smith

    The GOP is after Clinton for the same reason the Dems were after Christie. They are and were(in Christie`s case) on top of the polls.

    June 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. CryBabies

    Ask the members of our military what they think of Hillary. Just stop anyone in uniform, on the street, and ask. Not a prospect for Commander in Chief if they have a say.

    June 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Fr33th1nk3r

    Of course Republicans are obsessed with Hillary– she will be the instrument that brings about their political extinction in 2016.

    June 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Bill, Bloomington Il

    5 1/2 years of nothing from the sitting president. Hilary is already starting the "I didnt do it" tour. Enough is enough.

    June 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Democrats did not spend over two years to define Romney's character. With more than two years before the next presidential election, Republican political operatives' efforts to bring down Hillary have had limited success. Hillary's poll numbers are still high after a constant barrage of personal attacks. The attacks are getting old with voters tuning out to the noise.

    June 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Jerry

    She is like Jane fonda, she made a monumental mistake and won't be able to shake it for the rest of her life.
    If she had stood up and took the blunt of the blame along with the President, she would be a whole lot better off today.

    June 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. John

    GOP attacking Hillary? Must be worried. They should be. One problem GOP. Attack mode hasn't worked well for you in recent history. Might want to try a different approach. Here's a suggestion. Tell me what you have to offer that will make my life better. Have nothing? Scratch that vote.

    June 2, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Chris-E...al

    Bill Clinton lied about sexual relationships and looked through them binoculars backwards and Hilly lied about Benghaziiii and getting shot at in Bosnia and they are friends with drum roll the biggest liar and Chief of all times in recorded history . . And yes there was wmd in Iraq Sadumy used it on iranians and was moved before war probably to Syria . .

    June 2, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Norm

    Hillary couldn't even beat an inexperienced community organizer. Sadly, if she runs she'll probably win. The kool aid is strong with her sheeple.

    June 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Vijay

    GOP = Witch hunt party... They get elected by demonizing their opponent.. GOP never cared about the citizens. They cared only rich donors... Even when the entire country was in dire straits in 2009, GOP refused to cooperate and work with president in resolving crises... GOP = Good for nothing party.

    June 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |

    Very simple. They are TERRIFIED of Hillary.

    June 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Lisa P.

    Sen. Ted Cruz was in lockstep with Priebus in another interview, accusing Clinton of being "all politics all the time" and called the Benghazi chapter "pure political spin."

    Mr. Green-Eggs-and-Ham comes up with some pretty hilarious stuff sometimes! No one has spun Benghazi harder or faster than the GOP, to the extent that most Republicans and Tea Partiers can't give an accurate timeline of what happened when, where and to whom. But they all sure know the talking points! If that's going to be the game I don't see why everyone can't play it. Come 2016 Hillary will be eating Mr. Green-Eggs-and-Ham for breakfast.

    June 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    It doesn't matter WHAT the GOP SAYS or Does. The GOP HAS 0 CREDIBILITY with MOST American voters and won't see the inside of the whitehouse until the turn of the century. The fact you vote AGAINEST everything that would HELP the country just for your GOP FAILED 1950s agenda will keep losing elections for your WORTHLESS GOP BAFOON party, nobody is going to vote for you GOP FOOLS, get ready for ANOTHER BEATDOWN !!!!!!!!

    June 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. rpaulwmson

    Its comical how all the big GOP politicians are scared to death of a little woman, they look ridiculous and it will go against them in the next election. The American people can smell smear tactics and character assassination a long way off.Hillary has done more good for this country that the whole worthless lot of them put together.

    June 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. jboh

    When you have nothing to run on, you attack the opponent. Never forget that Karl Rove made his name in Nixon's dept. of dirty tricks(who's leader went to jail). How many Obama's Katrinas have we had? TEA/GOP has nothing but gripes and no ideas as old as Joe McCarthy. Anyone who doesn't sniff rushbo's oxycode pickled brain flatulence is an anti-American traitor.

    June 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. Griff

    The reason they are so obsessed with Hillary is that they're smart enough to know when another butt kicking is on the way for them in the presidential election. They will try against Hillary what did not work for President Obama. The repubs have to realize that they need to rid themselves of people like Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Ann Colter, Rove, and most of all Clint Eastwood and replace them with some people who are not old-world bigots and intelligent enough to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Ignorance is their greatest enemy, not Hillary!!! Hillary 2016!!

    June 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Zandy

    Hillary is the meteorite that is 2 1/2 years away from striking the Republican Party, and making them vanish like dinosaurs!

    June 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. ritmocojo

    The bottom line is that the GOtP is already pooping in its pants knowing that they have nobody that can get elected POTUS in 2016.

    June 2, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. tinykhan

    Can't wait for Hillary to say she isn't running, and all these organizations would have wasted all that time and money on nothing, and they won't have anything left for the real Democrat nominee.

    June 2, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  24. Lisa P.


    Ask the members of our military what they think of Hillary. Just stop anyone in uniform, on the street, and ask. Not a prospect for Commander in Chief if they have a say.
    June 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm

    If that's true then those people do not belong in our military. Go move to Thailand or Burma or Pakistan or Egypt if you think that the armed forces should run the government and not the other way around.

    June 2, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Gunderson

    Oh, gotcha. Republicans don't want no stinkin Nanny. But if you still need your Nanny, Hillary may be your sitter. Do you still need your Nanny?

    June 2, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5