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McCarthy digs in on Benghazi panel defense

McCarthy digs in on Benghazi panel defense
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPelosi, leaders seek to squelch Omar controversy with rare joint statement Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries Schumer bemoans number of Republicans who believe Trump will be reinstated: 'A glaring warning' MORE (R-Calif.) is reasserting his defense of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, hours after Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' Huma Abedin announces book deal Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records MORE spun his previous comments about the panel into a major campaign ad.

"The mission of the Select Committee on Benghazi is to find the truth — Period,” McCarthy, the candidate for Speaker, said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

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The “integrity” of panel Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and the other members “is beyond reproach,” he added.

“The serious questions Secretary Clinton faces are due entirely to her own decision to put classified information at risk and endanger our national security."

McCarthy’s defense was issued hours after Clinton’s presidential campaign released its first national television advertisement featuring the No. 2 House Republican’s comments from last week, which gave the committee credit for sinking her poll numbers.  

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee,” the ad quotes McCarthy as saying on Fox News last week. “What are her numbers today?”

“The Republicans finally admit it,” a narrator says in the ad for the former secretary of State.

McCarthy’s comments have left him reeling and upset the race for the next House leader, as his need to defend himself came up again on Tuesday.

While McCarthy is still seen as the front-runner, the week-old remarks have cast doubt on whether he is prepared to take on the top job. Over the weekend, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced he was running for Speaker, offering pointed blows at McCarthy’s verbal gaffe. 

Clinton’s campaign ad underscores the political value her allies seem to sense in McCarthy’s comments, which one aide has called a “watershed moment.”