WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is out with a new campaign ad taking advantage of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) much-criticized comment in which he said that the point of the Republican-led Benghazi committee was to sink Clinton's presidential bid.
"The Republicans finally admit it," says the narrator of the 30-second spot, which will begin airing nationally on cable TV Tuesday.
McCarthy, who is vying to become the next speaker of the House, told Fox News last week that Clinton would have been "unbeatable" in the 2016 election, had it not been for Republican efforts in the House to discredit her over the fatal 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, [and] what are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened," he said.
Republicans have long insisted that the committee, which is paid for with taxpayer money, is nonpartisan and focused solely on getting to the bottom of what happened in the 2012 attack. McCarthy has taken considerable heat for his comments from his fellow Republicans.
"I think it's a total mischaracterization of the good work that's been done on the Benghazi committee," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who is challenging McCarthy for the speaker position.
McCarthy later tried to clarify that it "was never my intention to ever imply this committee was political, because we all know it is not."
But his initial comment gave Clinton the ammunition she needed to take aim at the integrity of the committee ahead of her planned Oct. 22 testimony before the panel.
On Monday, NBC host Savannah Guthrie asked Clinton whether she believes the committee should be disbanded after McCarthy's comments. Clinton said what the group has done was "not appropriate," but it's ultimately up to Congress to determine whether to continue.
"Well, I have to say that now that they have admitted it's a political, partisan committee for the sole purpose of going after me -- not trying to make our diplomats who serve in dangerous areas safer -- that's up to the Congress," Clinton said. "If they are going to have it still running, I'll be there, and I'm looking forward to answering questions about real things when I'm there, and I'm looking forward to having a chance to explain everything we've done, everything that I asked to happen."
UPDATE: Oct. 6 -- McCarthy issued a statement Tuesday, saying the mission of the Benghazi committee "is to find the truth -- Period."
"The integrity of Chairman Gowdy, the Committee and the work they've accomplished is beyond reproach," he said. "The serious questions Secretary Clinton faces are due entirely to her own decision to put classified information at risk and endanger our national security."