By Ben Wolfgang
The Washington Times
Sunday, May 11, 2014
From her handling of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack to her husband's economic record, Hillary Clinton came under fire over the weekend from all quarters — including taking indirect shots from those inside her own party.
Mrs. Clinton, widely expected to run for president in 2016 and already boasting a huge lead over potential Democratic challengers, remains on the hot seat over the Benghazi affair. Republicans last week launched a new select committee to investigate the assault itself, why the State Department under Mrs. Clinton's leadership had personnel in the city at all and the former first lady's handling of the aftermath.
Benghazi is just one of the issues that add up to Mrs. Clinton's "F" grade during her time as secretary of state, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, charged Sunday.
But criticism from Republicans over Benghazi is hardly new for Mrs. Clinton. The weekend also saw two camouflaged jabs from her potential 2016 primary foes.
Speaking at a South Carolina fundraiser Friday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. reportedly blasted former President Clinton's economic record.
Citing sources inside the closed-door event, CNN said Mr. Biden blamed the decline of America's middle class on deep problems that began when Mr. Clinton occupied the White House.
He said the issue cropped up not during President George W. Bush's terms, but in the "later years of the Clinton administration," CNN reported.
On Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren — a favorite among progressives in the Democratic Party who have gravitated to her populist message — declined the opportunity to endorse Mrs. Clinton.
Many leading Democrats already have lined up behind the former first lady, but Ms. Warren — despite vowing she won't run for president herself — refused to join the chorus.
"We're not there," Ms. Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" when asked if she'd endorse Mrs. Clinton.
"This is about the issues on the table right now," she continued. "We've got to talk about student loans. We've got to talk about minimum wage. We have got to make changes. And we have an election coming up in 2014, where those issues are going to be right on the table."
Unlike Mrs. Clinton's fellow Democrats, leading Republicans were much more direct in their criticism.
Mr. Rubio, who also is mulling a presidential run, said Mrs. Clinton's time at State will be a net negative.
"I'm sure she's going to go on bragging about her time in the State Department. She's also going to have to be held accountable for its failures, whether it's the failed reset with Russia or the failure in Benghazi that actually cost lives," he said on ABC's "This Week" program. "I don't think she has a passing grade. If she is going to run on her record as secretary of state, she's also going to have to answer for its massive failures."
For her part, Mrs. Clinton shot back last week against Republicans' select committee on the Benghazi affair.
The attack and its aftermath are sure to be top issues in the 2016 presidential race, and Mrs. Clinton has launched a pre-emptive effort to paint the probe as political.
"There are a lot of reasons why, despite all of the hearings, all of the information that's been provided, some choose not to be satisfied and choose to continue to move forward," she said last week at an event in New York City. "That's their choice and I do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way, but they get to call the shots in the Congress."