The man expected to be next the House speaker is backtracking after making comments about the Hillary Clinton Benghazi investigation that quickly backfired. "I did not intend to imply in any way that that work is political," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy on Fox Thursday night, per AP. "Of course it is not." But Democrats say he did precisely that in an earlier interview—though they're not too angry because, as the Washington Post puts it, McCarthy's comments "may have turned into a political gift for Cliinton." Here is what McCarthy said on Tuesday to Fox's Sean Hannity:
- “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought.”
McCarthy said much the same in another interview that same day on CNN, and Democrats immediately pounced. The comments prove that "the Benghazi special committee was put together to hurt Hillary Clinton politically," said Harry Reid in calling for the panel to be disbanded, reports Politico. Clinton's campaign released a quick video with the same charge. What might sting the most for Republicans, notes the Post, is that all this comes ahead of Clinton's testimony before the panel on Oct. 22, and McCarthy's comments may undermine the effectiveness of any grilling. Even fellow Republicans are critical, with Rep. Jason Chaffetz calling the remarks "absolutely inappropriate." (Of course, Chaffetz is launching a long-shot bid to be the next speaker himself, notes Politico.) But some are calling it overblown: “Kevin could have said it more eloquently, but what Kevin was trying to get at was: As a result of the truth that’s come out from the Benghazi hearings, it’s had an impact on the trustworthiness factor of Clinton,” says Rep. Steve Stivers, an Ohio Republican.