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The Benghazi hearings could be good for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Testifies Before House Select Committee On Benghazi AttacksHillary Clinton Testifies Before House Select Committee On Benghazi Attacks
Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi Photograph by Chip Somodevilla — Getty Images

On Thursday, Democratic presidential favorite and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified under oath before the House Benghazi Select Committee about the attack on an American diplomatic facility in the Libyan city in 2012. The incident, which left four dead, has plagued the candidate for the past three years.

Many Republicans insist that Clinton was negligent in her handling of the situation and that she, alongside the rest of the Obama Administration, deliberately misrepresented what happened after the attack. Clinton and her supporters, though, claim that the Republicans have engaged in a partisan witch hunt.

Regardless of the intentions, though, the hearings may actually end up being a good thing for Clinton’s presidential campaign and could even improve how Americans perceive her as a leader.

First, any potential voters who who believe that Clinton is personally responsible for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens aren’t going to be voting for her anyway. They just aren’t. And it seems unlikely that anyone’s mind is going to be changed by these hearings. And then there’s the argument that “independent voters,” the kind who may be swayed by Clinton’s testimony, are largely a myth, as party affiliation is usually the deciding factor when people choose which candidates to vote for. So no one is sitting at home, watching Clinton’s testimony on C-SPAN and deciding that they won’t support her candidacy because she acted poorly in Benghazi.

So, if independent voters don’t decide elections despite what we’re told every election cycle, what does? Some argue it all comes down to a political party and a candidate’s ability to get out the vote. It’s all about making sure your people actually go to the polls. To do that, you need a strong campaign organization with an organized structure on the ground. Another part of it comes down to giving voters a leader who stands for them, who represents them.

That’s one potential explanation why Donald Trump is doing so well with Republican voters. Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he aims to stand up to Democrats and leftists. And based on his campaign’s success so far, he is clearly tapping into something Republican voters desire.

Meanwhile, Democratic voters think the conservatives in Congress are bullies and obstructionists who are too concerned with defeating President Obama and Hillary Clinton. A recent poll showed three in four Americans felt the Benghazi proceedings were politically motivated. Left-leaning voters are likely to be sympathetic to a candidate who can credibly claim to be a victim of, to borrow a phrase from Clinton herself, a “vast right wing conspiracy.” Clinton herself has played this up, repeatedly talking during last week’s debate about how she stood up to Republicans, even calling them one of the enemies she was proudest to have made.

On Thursday, Clinton got to go on television for several hours and take barbs from Republicans while swinging back when she could. That could go far in encouraging left-leaning voters to show their support with dollars and, most importantly, with votes.