Washington Post Reporter: Benghazi Scandal May Actually Help Hillary in 2016

Appearing on Monday's The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz touted Democratic spin that the ongoing Benghazi scandal could actually help Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign: "I talked to somebody over the weekend, a Democrat, who said, you know, this could actually be good for Clinton because the degree to which the right is really after her helps her with her left....if she's under attack by the right, the Democrats across the spectrum will be more forgiving of her." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Host and NBC political director Chuck Todd led off the exchange by wondering if the House GOP was just "playing politics" with the issue by announcing a select committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist attack. Balz declared: "I mean, I think the base of the Republican Party is very stirred up and continues to be very stirred up over Benghazi." Todd whined: "And they believe the worst in this conspiracy about the White House. And they believe it to the core."

Turning to NBC political reporter Kasie Hunt, Todd derisively asked: "Do any Democrats on Capitol Hill take this Benghazi – take these set of Benghazi hearings seriously, either in the substance or the politics of it?" Hunt replied: "I get the sense that they are pushing this idea that it's just a rehash, that we've been through this."

Todd wrapped up the segment by portraying Republican persistence on Benghazi as merely anti-Obama shorthand: "I think Benghazi no longer is the name of a city in Libya. In many ways, for some Republicans, you throw that and it encompasses everything that they don't like, I think, about this administration."


Here is a transcript of the May 5 exchange:

9:11 AM ET

(...)

CHUCK TODD: Now, Dan, I want to pivot here a little bit to Benghazi. The decision by the House leadership to call the select committee. I think there's a number of ways folks are looking at it. You can say House leadership had no choice. They've been talking about this as – they think it's a huge scandal. If they didn't call for this, then has it been just nothing but them playing politics? At the same time, is this them playing politics? Is this about keeping the base happy in this midterm year? What do you see?

DAN BALZ [WASHINGTON POST]: Yes and yes.

TODD: A little bit of everything, here.

BALZ: I think it is a little bit of everything. I mean, I think the base of the Republican Party is very stirred up and continues to be very stirred up over Benghazi.

TODD: And they believe the worst in this conspiracy about the White House.

BALZ: Yes, they do.

TODD: And they believe it to the core.

BALZ: And there have been – I mean, there have been multiple investigations, multiple hearings.

TODD: More than we've seen on many-

BALZ: Yes. And now we will go through another round of it. But it kicks it over into 2015, it potentially kicks it over into Secretary Clinton's potential presidential campaign. And so-

TODD: You know, yesterday Jason Chaffetz mentioned Hillary Clinton's name more than President Obama when talking about Benghazi. That to me was a tell.

BALZ: Yes, and – but I talked to somebody over the weekend, a Democrat, who said, you know, this could actually be good for Clinton because the degree to which the right is really after her helps her with her left. And if she's got some lack of enthusiasm on the left that we've talked about before – we don't really know whether that's going to be the case – if she's under attack by the right, the Democrats across the spectrum will be more forgiving of her.

TODD: Kasie, do any Democrats on Capitol Hill take this Benghazi – take these set of Benghazi hearings seriously, either in the substance or the politics of it?

KASIE HUNT: I don't – I get the sense that they are pushing this idea that it's just a rehash, that we've been through this. And I think that's part of why the emails that came out most recently have caused such a stir, because it was something that now they view the White House is keeping held back.

And one thing on the politics of this. I mean we were talking a lot about sort of this fight within the Republican Party, Benghazi is an issue that unites the entire Republican Party. I mean, this is something that Lindsey Graham can talk about, this is something that every Tea Party challenger can talk about. Which is, I think, part of the reason why the volume is so high.

TODD: Well, it's interesting, I think Benghazi no longer is the name of a city in Libya. In many ways, for some Republicans, you throw that and it encompasses everything that they don't like, I think, about this administration. Anyway, Dan Balz, Kasie Hunt, thank you both.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC