Clinton Continues to Ride the Momentum of a Criticism Gone Awry

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 6.50.35 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN  Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Good Wednesday morning. Tuesday seemed to bring back the sharp-elbow and potential pitfall phase of the election cycle, as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina found himself asking that his state be granted aid he voted to deny for others, and Ben Carson took criticism for several statements he made about the mass shooting last week in Oregon. But the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has had a long summer of those sharp elbows from others, seems emboldened by the lingering effects of Republicans errant attack.

Five simple words — “What are her numbers today?” — are not disappearing easily for Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader.

Mr. McCarthy, the Republican legislator who is considered likely to be the next speaker of the House, made an almost off-handed remark in a Fox News interview last week connecting the work of a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, to Mrs. Clinton’s poll numbers. Republicans have so far been unable to quell criticism over the statements, which have bathed the committee in the type of partisanship that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers have said was at work all along.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has broadcast a television ad this week on two cable networks, even put on the air with a relatively small amount of television time paid for, which will guarantee that the issue remains in the headlines until she testifies before the committee on Oct. 22.
And for the first time, Democrats feel as though they have been able to have their views heard on the work of the committee, which uncovered Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email system. Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York, made a move on Tuesday night to prompt a process to disband the Benghazi committee. The maneuver is doomed to fail in the Republican-led Congress, but it is a signal that Democrats are feeling emboldened.
So is Mrs. Clinton’s campaign — her team sent copies of her memoir of her time as secretary of state, “Hard Choices,” to the entire Republican presidential field, after the candidates questioned her accomplishments in their last debate.
Republicans involved with the committee have argued that people should judge it by its work and not by someone’s words. But for now, and for days to come, those words will endure.