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Chaffetz: McCarthy’s Benghazi Comment a ‘Side Issue’ in Speaker’s Race

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s controversial Benghazi comments are not the reason he decided to launch an underdog bid for House speaker.

“That is a side issue, that was a mistake. Kevin McCarthy has admitted as much. It’s not normal that he does this,” Chaffetz said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

Last week McCarthy, who is the favorite to succeed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, linked Congressional Republicans’ investigation into the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, to Clinton’s faltering poll numbers. The comments provoked outrage from Democrats who said the remarks show the investigation is more about politics than getting answers about the attack that killed four Americans.

Clinton launched a new television ad nationally on Tuesday highlighting the comments. McCarthy has since said he did not mean to suggest the Benghazi Select Committee was acting politically.

“I’m not running against Kevin McCarthy. He’s a good man, he’s done a lot. He’s a big reason we're in the majority,” Chaffetz said.

“I’m doing it because I think we need a fresh start, I think we need to bridge the internal divide that we have had,” he added.