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

Posted at 12:30 PM, May 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-11 11:06:03-04

(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.

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.

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.”