In October of 2015, the Hillary Clinton campaign team was working to blend together two of her biggest controversies in the minds of voters: the email scandal and Benghazi. According to emails leaked by Wikileaks, Clinton “consultants” felt it was “imperative” to tie Clinton’s use of private email servers for government business–including classified documents– to the broader Benghazi issue. They seemed to believe that could help improve Clinton’s primary numbers in key states because the Benghazi investigations had been successfully controversialized in the minds of many voters as a political witch hunt. The discussion surrounded production of ads by three TV firms.
“I feel like we really need to understand whether voters will believe that we can credibly conflate Benghazi and emails,” writes one Clinton campaign official, Oren Shur.
“If the objective is purely to undermine the Benghazi hearings, I think these spots will certainly help do that. But if the objective is to connect emails-Benghazi and conflate the two in voters’ minds (which consultants feel is an imperative here), I’m not sure we know whether we can credibly do that – we’ll get a read from groups, but may need to just make a judgement call once we see rough cuts.”