The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The day after her Benghazi testimony, Clinton criticizes another GOP-led ‘witch hunt’

Hillary Clinton testifies to a House panel investigating the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on Thursday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Fresh off a marathon day of testimony to a House panel on Benghazi, Hillary Rodham Clinton was boisterously embraced Friday at a gathering of Democratic women in Washington, where she derided plans for another Republican-led investigation: into Planned Parenthood.

“From my experience yesterday, I am just amazed that they are even talking about setting up another special investigative committee,” Clinton said at an event sponsored by the Democratic National Committee. “I think we all know by now that’s just code for a partisan witch hunt. Haven’t we seen enough of that?”

Clinton was referring to a House vote this month to establish a special committee with a broad charge to investigate abortion practices, continuing the work of other panels looking at Planned Parenthood, a government-subsidized women’s health-care provider. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) named the leaders of the new panel on Friday.

[Clinton, back in the Benghazi hot seat, withstands Republicans’ grilling]

Clinton, who was among four Democratic presidential candidates to appear at the Women’s Leadership Forum, was greeted by multiple rounds of applause and a standing ovation from a crowd of about 600 people.

Hillary Clinton went before the House Select Committee on Benghazi to talk about her involvement as former secretary of state. The Fix’s Chris Cillizza discusses how she did and how this will impact her moving forward. (Video: Alice Li/The Washington Post)

“As some of you may know, I had a pretty long day yesterday,” she said, referring to her testimony at a high-stakes hearing on the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, during her tenure as secretary of state.

During her 20-minute address, Clinton recounted a history of working on issues affecting women and families, pledged to continue her advocacy for more gun control and took several other shots at Republicans in Congress and seeking the presidency.

“You can listen to their debates for hours — unfortunately some of us have to — and you won’t hear a single solution to any of the problems we’re facing here at home or around the world,” Clinton said of the GOP presidential field.

[Lincoln Chafee ends Democratic bid for president]

Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island senator and governor, used Friday’s gathering to officially announce the end of his candidacy, which had failed to gain any traction. He bowed out with a plea for “an end to the endless wars." 

Two other Democrats who remain in the race — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley — both highlighted positions that stand to benefit female voters, including pay equity, expanded child care and guaranteed family leave.

Both also referenced Planned Parenthood. O’Malley chided Republicans for treating the organization like a “political football.” Sanders pledged to push for more funding for the range of health services it provides.

Planned Parenthood has faced heightened scrutiny since July, when antiabortion activists first released undercover videos depicting some of the group’s executives discussing its handling of tissue harvested from aborted fetuses for research.

In making a pitch for his candidacy, Sanders also pushed an argument that he could expand the electorate in the general election, increasing the chances of victory up and down the ballot for Democrats.

“Establishment politics, the same ol’ same ol', ain’t gonna do it,” said Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. To win elections, he said, “you rally millions of working-class people who have given up on the political process. You rally young people who have given up on the political process.”

O’Malley, who lags far behind Clinton and Sanders in the polls, suggested that he still has plenty of time to make up ground, now that the Democratic debates have started.

“Our race, the Democratic party race for president, has just begun,” he told the crowd.