[Video below.] Less than five months after Barack Obama began his second term, the 2016 presidential campaign kicked off this weekend with a Benghazi-themed attack ad that takes direct aim at Hillary Clinton.
The 90-second web ad, called “Benghazi”, was issued by the Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, which spent more than $21 million in the last election cycle.
This American Crossroads ad matters because of its purpose: a preemptive strike against a potential Clinton presidential campaign in 2016. Remember that through 2008, Clinton was widely considered the most polarizing figure in American politics. The days of Hillary as Republicans’ favorite member of the Obama cabinet are over.
Using graphics best suited to a spy film, the first words on the screen are “September 11th, 2012”-emphasizing the date’s talismanic importance in making the case that Democrats are weak on terrorism even in the wake of the killing of bin Laden. Briskly laying out the sequence of the Benghazi attacks, the ad then cites the “2 a.m. phone call” to the then-secretary of State from Gregory Hicks, the deputy station chief in Libya, who testified in Congress last week that he described the attacks as they were occurring as “terrorism.” It is no accident that the “2 a.m. call” neatly recalls the Clinton campaign’s famous 2008 3 a.m. phone-call attack ad directed at Barack Obama.
The Rove ad never mentions President Obama by name and only shows him briefly beside Hillary Clinton at Andrews Air Force Base days after the attacks, when the bodies of Ambassador Stevens and his aides arrived back in the United States. The clip of Clinton speaking is instructive because it cherry-picks perhaps the most credible criticism of the Obama administration in the wake of the Benghazi attack: Hillary incorrectly blaming the “awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.”
Click below to watch the video:
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