Hillary Clinton must address Benghazi, email scandal with 2016 bid official – Washington Times


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Questions persist about why she didn’t turn over her emails when she left the State Department in early 2013, how she selected the roughly 63,000 emails from her tenure to destroy and why she erased the server memory amid the scandal.

Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have weathered a lifetime of political scandals. Still, her responses to these ethical issues and how she handles other criticism as she navigates the campaign trail once again will test her character.

“Presidential elections are not just about issues and partisan politics, they are character tests about specific candidates at specific moments in history,” said Democratic campaign strategist Craig Varoga, who previously worked on Mr. Clinton’s 1996 reelection team and for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is preparing to challenge Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

“Americans are divided down the middle, in a foul mood and think the country’s going to hell in a handbasket. Hillary’s greatest strength is her experience, but every one of her opponents will try to use that experience against her,” said Mr. Varoga. “The candidate who eventually wins in November 2016 will be the one who does the best job of showing that he or she has the experience to be steady and strong, but also has the temperament to take the country in a new direction.”

Indeed, many of the questions swirling around Mrs. Clinton arose from her four years as American’s top diplomat under President Obama.

She remains a key figure in the probe by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The attacks, and the Obama administration’s response to them — including initially blaming them on a spontaneous riot over an anti-Islam YouTube video — left an indelible black mark on Mrs. Clinton’s record as secretary of state. She could be called to publicly testify before the Benghazi committee in the middle of the campaign and answer questions about her role in the episode, as well as her secretive handling of emails.

Mrs. Clinton also will perform a careful balancing act as she defends the actions of the Obama administration that she served, while breaking with Mr. Obama to demonstrate that she’s her own woman and offers voters something new.

She will encounter criticism of her dealings with Russia, symbolized by the embarrassing “reset” policy. But she will also have to offer a new vision for dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who led his country’s takeover of Crimea and continues to sow unrest in eastern Ukraine with disregard for U.S. sanctions and admonishments.

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