The Washington Post

RNC cut Benghazi attack ad that never aired

Last fall, the Republican National Committee produced a striking Benghazi attack ad that never aired — because Mitt Romney's campaign didn't want it to.

ABC News first reported on the ad, which was produced in mid-October.

It starts with a clip from the infamous "3 a.m. phone call" ad Hillary Clinton aired during the 2008 Democratic primary. Then the video shifts to one of the Benghzai, Libya, compound in flames on Sept. 11, 2012.

"The call came," a title card reads to the sound of a phone ringing in the background. “Security requests denied. Four Americans dead. And an administration whose story is still changing." A dial tone plays. "Americans deserve answers."

Romney's campaign asked that the ad not be run, a source familiar with the situation confirms, because they were concerned it would distract from his economic message.

The candidate himself took a combative approach the night of the attack and the next morning, saying that the Obama administration sympathized with and apologized to the attackers. That response was widely criticized. Romney was "snake bit" by the reaction, a senior adviser later told The Post, and was reluctant to engage Obama on Libya for the rest of the campaign. He did accuse Obama in the second debate of not immediately calling the assault a terrorist attack — only to have moderator Candy Crowley interject on the president's side.

The House oversight committee held a hearing Wednesday at which three former State Department officials criticized their leadership's actions before and after the Benghazi attack. Republicans on the committee repeatedly tried to tie Clinton to what they see as both a failure to secure the compound and a cover-up to obscure the fact that an act of terrorism took place.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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