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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Clinton Appears Before Congress on Benghazi - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday fired back at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) over accusations that the Obama Administration misled the public by claiming the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous protest. Johnson pressed Clinton on why the State Department didn't talk to the U.S. diplomatic staff evacuated after the attack, to get clear information about what happened.
"Senator, when you're in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on," Clinton said, adding that the State Department was waiting for the FBI to finish conducting interviews.

"I realize that's a good excuse," Johnson responded.

"Well, no, it's the fact," Clinton said. "Even today, there are questions being raised. We have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on, and why they were doing what they were doing, is still, is still unknown."

Clinton forcefully insisted neither UN Ambassador Susan Rice nor the Obama Administration misled the public. "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," she said. "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information."

Clinton's prepared statement can be read here.


Hillary Clinton Enjoys 67% Approval Rating - Fully 67 percent of all Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll now express favorable views of the outgoing secretary of state, a record high in the survey for Clinton, albeit by a single percentage point. By contrast, just 19 percent of people said they approved of the way Congress was doing its job in a Post-ABC poll released last week.


House To Vote Today On Extending Debt Limit To May 19, White House Will Not Oppose - The measure — set for a vote Wednesday in the House — would not resolve the dispute over how to control the national debt. But after the traumatic “fiscal cliff” episode at the end of last year, it would buy policymakers a little breathing room to continue the argument without another economy-rattling deadline just around the corner.

The White House tacitly endorsed the proposal Tuesday, issuing a statement that said Obama “would not oppose” the temporary respite. The president has called for a long-term extension of the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority, which he argues would “increase certainty and economic stability.”  The Washington Post has more here.


GOP Tries To ReGroup - Two days after President Obama’s inauguration, all the Democratic celebrations, the parades and inaugural balls, Republicans today begin heading to Charlotte, NC for the RNC’s winter meeting, where they will lick their electoral wounds and start to regroup. Here’s the bad news for the GOP: According to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, the party’s unfavorable rating (49%) is at its highest point since 2008. The Obama White House and Democrats forced the GOP to fold its opposition to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans (though the agreement extended tax breaks for everyone else). And it has retreated -- for now -- on using the debt ceiling to demand additional spending cuts (and will instead use the budget process for that fiscal fight). 

The real action in Charlotte begins tomorrow: That brings us to the upcoming RNC meeting in Charlotte, which happens to be the same city where Democrats held their triumphant convention last year. Per NBC’s Carrie Dann, the real action begins taking place tomorrow, when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at a dinner and when the RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” -- the party’s effort to improve upon what went wrong in the last election -- will discuss its research. And on Friday, the 168 RNC members will elect the party chairman for the next years. It’s widely expected that current RNC Chair Reince Priebus will win re-election.  NBC FirstRead has more here.


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