Hillary Clinton was on defense for a good deal of Sunday’s Democratic debate, on everything from Obamacare to her Wall Street connections. (Sen. Bernie Sanders cracked at one point, “I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”) Her biggest liability, however, in the general election may still be her foreign policy record. That is why a new third-party group, Restoration PAC, aims to run a series of hard-hitting ads taking issue with both her record and her credibility on foreign policy.
Doug Truax, a West Point grad, Army veteran and former Senate candidate from Illinois, is putting more than $390,000 toward an initial 60-second ad. He will be aided by Richard Grenell, a foreign policy expert who served in the State Department from 2001 to 2008. This first ad will run beginning tomorrow for 10 days in the District, New Hampshire and South Carolina and will include a “significant” digital and social media ad buy.
The first ad takes up Benghazi, reminding voters : “About an hour after the attack began, Hillary Clinton tells her daughter the truth. It was an ‘Al Qaeda like group.’ Then she tells the Egyptian Prime Minister the truth, too. It was a terrorist attack — not related to any YouTube video.” The ad goes on to bash her for purportedly lying to the families of those killed. “As the bodies of murdered Americans are returning to grieving families, Clinton lies to them and again blames a video.” Clips of former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice — who was sent out to spin the attack on the first Sunday following 9/11/12 — focus on the anti-Islamic video. The announcer ends the ad: “In the heat of a political campaign, Clinton lied to protect her job. She even lied to families of our heroes. And she wants to lead our country?”
The ad was a long time in the making, but Restoration PAC got a huge lift when the movie “13 Hours” was released. Truax told me in a phone interview: “We are talking about inserting at the top of the chain of command [someone] who had the nerve to look the family members in the eye and lie.” This kind of behavior is “disqualifying,” he says. “Everything for her is through the lens of selfishness. It’s all political — she’ll just say or do anything.”
According to Truax, future ads will include other subjects, including funding for the military. “The people who make the most chaos cause the most wars,” he says. “It’s not these guys going out to get killed.”
Clinton’s problem is not merely lack of candor. She still praises the Syria chemical weapons deal, ignoring that it did not rid Syria of chemical weapons and that it opened the door to Russian influence in the region. Truax says, “She doesn’t see the world the way it is.”
Clinton in the debate sought to blame others, as if American retreat did not create a vacuum. “If there is any blame to be spread around, it starts with the prime minister of Iraq, who sectarianized his military, setting Shia against Sunni,” she said. “It is amplified by Assad, who has waged one of the bloodiest, most terrible attacks on his own people: 250,000-plus dead, millions fleeing. Causing this vacuum that has been filled unfortunately, by terrorist groups, including ISIS.” That vacuum was, of course, created by America’s absence. She conceded, “So, I think we are in the midst of great turmoil in this region. We have a proxy conflict going on between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
And when it comes to Russia, Clinton insists she has a relationship of “respect” with Vladimir Putin, who has defied the United States from Ukraine to Syria. “We’ve had some very tough dealings with one another,” she said. “And I know that he’s someone that you have to continuingly stand up to because, like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can unless you do.” How much more could he have taken, one wonders, under the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy? Clinton, for one, seems to take no responsibility for letting Putin get the best of the United States for more than seven years.
Restoration PAC has no shortage of material. And judging from her debate performance Sunday night, Truax seems justified in concluding, “She’s not capable of changing.”