A month before the 2012 presidential election, a confidant to Hillary Rodham Clinton emailed her with a warning: Mitt Romney could exploit the attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, while campaigning against President Obama.
The email from Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton ally, came Oct. 1, 2012, only weeks after the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Clinton's response was short: "Thanks. I'm pushing to WH."
Details of the exchange emerged Thursday after the New York Times obtained about one-third of the nearly 850 pages of emails the State Department plans to release in the coming days. The emails, which were handed over to a congressional panel investigating the Benghazi attack, capture correspondence between Clinton and staffers after the attack.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in the 2016 election, has been castigated in recent months after it was revealed she exclusively used a private email address during her entire tenure at the State Department. The former secretary of State has turned over a total of 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department, which are scheduled to be released over the next several months.
A follow-up message from Blumenthal to Clinton highlighted an op-ed by Romney, also noting that "according to Politico yesterday, there was an internal argument within the Romney campaign over Libya."
In the final days of the campaign, Romney looked to portray the attack as a lack of leadership on Obama's part. And in a debate Oct. 17 it backfired on Romney: He assailed the president for not immediately calling the attack terrorism, when, in fact, Obama had called it an act of terror early on.
A glimpse at the friendship between Blumenthal and Clinton can also be seen in an email sent Oct. 7 of that year. After the two crossed paths, Blumenthal sent Clinton a note saying, "Post-election, we'd like to have you over for dinner."
He added, "Bill can come too, if he's in town. Whatever works."
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