Hillary Clinton needs to come clean on Benghazi once and for all if she expects to successfully run for president in 2016, renowned political strategist and pollster John McLaughlin says.
"If she testifies again and she wants to be commander in chief, she better have a good explanation why they didn't do more to save these Americans' lives," McLaughlin told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"That's going to be critical – it's probably even more important to her future than to what's happened in the past.
"At this point, it looks like there was a mistake in judgment in the Obama administration that was a severe mistake. You can't go back and undo that. On the other hand, we need to know that this is never going to happen again," he said Tuesday.
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Clinton is expected to be grilled by the newly formed House select committee, which is investigating the lack of security that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
The committee will also seek answers as to why the White House initially blamed reaction to an anti-Islamic video for the attack, which was later proven false. Critics think the Obama administration, with the presidential election looming, did not want to call it a terrorist attack after having insisted that al-Qaida was on the run.
MacLaughlin said Americans "absolutely" want the full story behind Benghazi.
"We've seen it in our surveys . . . It's sad, but people think that the government's not being honest with them," he said.
"Seven out of 10 Americans . . . are telling us that their fundamental rights and their liberties are being violated. They think the government is invading their privacy, their healthcare, their rights of religion, owning guns, many of the First Amendment rights in the Bill of Rights.
"When it comes to Benghazi specifically, they think that the Obama administration and [former Secretary of State] Clinton weren't being honest with them, so they want to get to the truth."
The bottom line, McLaughlin says, is that Americans want to know the government has their back.
"When you have Americans serving overseas, serving their government, whether as civilians or in the military, you'd like to know that our government with their military might would be there to back them up. That wasn't the case in Benghazi," McLaughlin said.
This week, Republican strategist Karl Rove made waves when the New York Post reported that he suggested Clinton might have brain damage
from a blood clot she suffered in 2012.
Appearing on Fox News, Rove denied that statement
but said Clinton had been through a "serious health episode" and may have to answer questions about her health and age if she runs.
McLaughlin, whose clients have included former presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Fred Thompson and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, doesn't see it as an issue for now.
"It's one of those things where as long as she's out in public and she's operating at a full capacity, people won't have an issue with it," McLaughlin said.
"People will make comparisons to her and Ronald Reagan when he was elected . . . and certainly a lot of liberals have disparaged Reagan because of his age even after he had a successful presidency.
"I think with Secretary Clinton, it's more a factor of, OK, will she do the usual things that candidates do when they release medical records or don't release medical records?"
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