News / USA

    Republicans Target Hillary’s Health, Benghazi

    Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and University of Miami students at UM in Coral Gables, Fla., Feb. 26, 2014
    Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaks to a group of supporters and University of Miami students at UM in Coral Gables, Fla., Feb. 26, 2014
    Is this how it’s going to be for the next two-and-half years?

    Republican strategist Karl Rove’s decision to raise the issue of Hillary Clinton’s health at a political conference signals a possible new line of attack on the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016.
     
    Rove’s comments, reported beneath the scintillating The New York Post headline, raised the specter of “brain damage” in the wake of Clinton’s December 2012 fall at her Washington home that resulted in a concussion.

    “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?" he told the audience. "We need to know what’s up with that.”
     
    Nevermind that Clinton spent only three days in the hospital and has said she won’t even decide on a White House run until later this year or early next, the Rove comments seem to signal a Republican effort to soften her up early.

    It seems as though the time has come to “let the games begin.”
     
    Outraged Democrats jumped all over Rove's comments, the general tenor of which he later defended on Fox News.

    “I didn’t say she had brain damage," he told viewers. "She had a serious health episode. This will be an issue in the 2016 race whether she likes it or not.”
     
    Known as former President George W. Bush’s lead political strategist in both presidential victories — even Bush referred to Rove as “the architect” of his 2004 re-election — some analysts believe Clinton is already polling so strong that various Republican operatives will try multiple lines of attack to see if they soften her up well before the 2016 primaries begin.

    During a recent Washington appearance, former President Bill Clinton chuckled when asked about the episode.

    “Now they say she has really got brain damage?" he said. "If she does then I must be in really tough shape because she is still quicker than I am.”
     
    Hillary Clinton made no mention of the issue when speaking to the Washington-based New America Foundation on Friday.
     
    More to come
     
    The attacks on Hillary Clinton are no surprise to veteran Democratic strategists Celinda Lake, a pollster for Bill Clinton and an enthusiastic backer of his wife.

    She says those surrounding the likely 2016 candidate harbor no illusions about what to expect if she decides to make a White House bid.

    “Just as people were unbounded in their commentary about Obama, they will be unbounded in their commentary on her and she’s tough enough," said Lake. "She can take it. She’s taken it for years.”
     
    Another issue you can expect to hear a lot more about is the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, died.

    House Speaker John Boehner recently announced the formation of a special House committee to look into the Benghazi attacks and many Democrats expect Republicans will try to use it to raise questions about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
     
    Republicans have long charged that the Obama administration was slow to acknowledge that the Benghazi incident was a terrorist attack because it came in the midst of the president’s 2012 re-election campaign, a charge the president rebuffed in one of his debates with Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
     
    But the issue lived on, and Clinton, recovering from her fall, was still defending her handling of Benghazi during the famously heated 2013 Senate hearing that saw a line of tough questioning from Republicans.

    “Was it because of a protest or was it because guys were out for a walk one night and decided to go kill some Americans?" she told Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "What difference at this point does it make?”
     
    No stranger to Republican attacks, Clinton, during her time as first lady, took a lot of heat for her husband’s initial health-care reform proposal in 1993 and 1994.

    Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst for the American Enterprise Institute, said Clinton will likely be well-prepared for a barrage of Republican salvos should she decide to run in 2016.

    “There is a base of opposition to Hillary Clinton," she said. "It is part of the Republican conservative base and that is not inconsequential but I think she looks like a pretty strong candidate at this point.”
     
    Still the frontrunner
     
    Public opinion polls show Clinton a strong favorite for the Democratic nomination in two years.

    She continues to swamp Vice President Joe Biden and other less well-known potential contenders like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

    In addition, recent surveys show her defeating any number of potential Republican candidates including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a favorite of mainstream Republican activists who are pushing him to get into the race.

    Like Clinton, Bush says he will make a decision on a White House run some time after this November’s congressional elections.

    George Washington University political scientist John Sides said Clinton looks to be in a strong position.

    “Really the race is hers if she wants it," he said. "I don’t have any insight into her mindset about it right now. But she is quite strong and I think it would be difficult to imagine any other Democrat emerging as a serious challenger.”
     
    The Hillary-2016 speculation will ramp up in a big way in just a few weeks. "Hard Choices," her memoir on being secretary of state, will be published next month, which she'll be likely to discuss in TV interviews.

    But try as she might to turn the conversation back to her time as secretary of state, it’s certain she’ll be asked over and over again if she has any future political plans.

    Democrats and Republicans will be, as they say, “all ears.”

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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    by: Mrs. Eructation from: That's my business!
    May 16, 2014 4:55 PM
    Time does have a way of revealing the truth of the matter, and the slow drip of Benghazi revelations will only increase until the midterm elections. Because Ms. Clinton has not come clean since the very beginning, she now sits in a very awkward and vulnerable position. How so?

    Any political pundit would objectively observe that Ms. Clinton, based on all the information that is available in the public domain, appears to be guilty of criminal neglect in her capacity of Secretary of State. That verdict is based on the fact that the predicament was allowed to occur in the first place. Simply put, a US Ambassador’s many solicitations for protection were ignored by his boss in DC.


    “When you read the various pieces and bits of information she received in the weeks and months prior to the attack, it is hard to see how they could have been any more blunt or explicit in warning of the likelihood of future terror attacks in Benghazi.”[1]

    Someone going even so far as to order available units to stand down makes this situation even worse.

    Of course, the cover-up is where things have really gotten messy for Secretary Clinton. Which is why her Republican inquisitors are so determined to get to the bottom of things. They can only tolerate so much obfuscation, non-compliance and irresponsible behavior on the part of the White House before the American people start to call them on it. The longer this whole sordid affair drags on, the worse it’s going to be for everyone involved in the Obama Adminstration, especially Hillary Clinton.



    As an aspiring presidential nominee, candidate Clinton will necessarily be held up to a much higher standard than she has been in her previous roles. Her stint at State is the only one she can point to as demonstrating her abilities to handle foreign affairs. In light of President Obama’s string of foreign affair fiascos, she will be hard-pressed to bring the necessary gravitas to the role of president in this particular regard.

    Even for diehard Democrats, there is the distinct sentiment that Ms Clinton is not up to the task. Her responses to so many challenges, both personal and political, over the years reveal a woman who is often petty, vindictive and unaccountable. Truly, her place in the White House is as an ex First Lady who gave it her best.



    Ms. Clinton ought to look at the Benghazi hearing as an opportunity to listen to the many reasons she should not even consider running for president. Undoubtedly, she will hear things that will embarrass her and her office at State. Truly, so many things happened that should not have under her watch. Just as many things did not occur in Benghazi that should have for the protection of four Americans who died.



    Subsequent attempts to acquire pertinent correspondence from the White House about the Benghazi attack and US Government response have been met with continual stonewalling and denial.
    At the end of the day, both Secretary Clinton and President Obama will be held directly responsible for this cover-up, as well as the obvious negligence up to and including the attacks. Each ought to be held accountable for their actions by the Congress and the Mainstream Media (MSM). Unfortunately the MSM has both supported Secretary Clinton’s narrative and enabled her reprehensible conduct at every turn.

    However, with the midterm elections around the corner pointing to a GOP landslide, the political chessboard is about to be rearranged in a way that will not bode well for Candidate Clinton.
    The question remains: Does Hillary Clinton understand that the powers that be are using the Benghazi Commission to send her a message? Perhaps she will get it before her first answers are rendered before a congressional inquiry that promises to be bigger and badder than Watergate. How do you spell C O V E R – U P ?

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