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DNC Chairwoman: Benghazi Committee 'Political Ploy'

Wasserman Schultz is a Democrat from Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Wednesday accused House Republicans of creating a select investigative committee on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, solely to motivate their base to turn out in the November midterm elections.  

“Let’s call this what it is — it is nothing more than a political ploy because continuing to focus obsessively on repealing the Affordable Care Act has lost its luster, even among their own party members,” the Florida lawmaker said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Republicans selected Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to lead the committee and gave their party seven slots on the 12-member panel, to just five for Democrats. House Democratic leaders sent a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner Tuesday night urging him to reconsider the committee’s partisan split.  

Wasserman Schultz said she agrees with the request from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and believes they "should seriously consider not participating if the process is not going to be fair."  

If House Republicans "want to ensure that the investigation — which, like I said, I believe is really just an election-year turnout operation for their base — if they want to make sure it’s fair, there is no reason to reject the leader’s request to have the committee be evenly split."  

In response, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said, "Republicans want answers from a White House that spent more time politicizing this issue than trying to figure out how Americans died."  

The chairwoman pointed to the special election in Florida's 13th District — which in the immediate aftermath served as a red flag for Democrats already concerned about turnout in November — as an example of the GOP's own turnout issues, saying Republicans should have "run away" with the open-seat race.  

Despite polling showing a challenging climate for Democrats, she said the party is headed for a successful midterm cycle, particularly when looking at the races individually, rather than at a macro level.  

"We're looking forward to the midterms," Wasserman Schultz said, citing some gubernatorial opportunities in Pennsylvania, Florida and Maine. "We have opportunities in the Senate in Georgia and Kentucky, and keep a close eye on Mississippi. When it comes to our incumbent senators, the Republicans and pundits are pointing to some of the vulnerable incumbents — these are challenging races, but we have incumbent members who have their finger on the pulse of their constituencies, know the people that they represent, and I think we'll be successful in November."