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Obama: Clinton's Private Email Server a 'Mistake'

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks with members of the audience, Oct. 7, 2015, during a campaign stop at the Westfair Amphitheater in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

U.S. President Barack Obama says that Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate looking to succeed him, made "a mistake" in using a private email server while she served as his secretary of state, but that it did not endanger national security.

Obama, in an interview aired Sunday night on CBS's "60 Minutes," said Clinton could have been quicker in disclosing her use of the email server, which was housed at her home outside New York City.

He said public officials need to be sensitive about how they handle classified government materials, but added that the criticism of Clinton has been fanned by Republicans trying to thwart her presidential candidacy.

''She made a mistake. She's acknowledged it. I do think that — the way it's been ginned-up — is in part — because of politics," Obama said. "She could have handled the original decision better and — the disclosures — more quickly.''

Clinton has repeatedly said that she did not receive or send classified government material in the thousands of emails routed through the private email server she used while she was the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013. But government investigators have subsequently recovered dozens of her emails they say should have been marked as classified.

Republican-led investigations into Clinton's handling of the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead have since shifted much of their focus into her use of the private email server rather than one controlled by the government and whether that endangered national security. Clinton is set to testify about Benghazi and her email arrangement before a House of Representatives investigating committee on October 22.

Republican lawmakers have sought to portray their investigation as non-partisan. But one key lawmaker, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, recently told a television interviewer that the Benghazi committee's investigation had helped drive down Clinton's political support.

Clinton and four Democratic challengers for the party's 2016 presidential nomination are set to hold their first debate Tuesday night and her use of the private email server is likely to play a prominent role in the discussion.

Ahead of the debate, the Republican National Committee is broadcasting a political ad attacking Clinton's claim that she did not email classified material to anyone.

"Hillary Clinton is not telling us the truth ... again," the ad says.

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