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Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday that he never meant to link a Congressional investigation into Benghazi to Hillary Clinton's faltering poll numbers, and that the outrage over his remarks has been a setback to his hopes of becoming the next House speaker.
"This committee was set up for one sole purpose, to find the truth on behalf of the families of four dead Americans. Now I did not intend to imply in any way that that work was political," McCarthy said in an appearance on Fox News' "Special Report."
In an appearance on Fox earlier this week, McCarthy said, "We put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are [Clinton's] numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."
The comment drew criticism from both sides of the aisle, including some of his fellow members of the House GOP.
Clinton said the comments show the GOP investigation into the 2012 attack is "a partisan, political exercise."
McCarthy, the favorite to become speaker once John Boehner retires later this year, said the comments have "been a setback," but he is still confident he will have the votes to become the next leader of the House Republicans.
The California Republican said he is "very close" to having enough votes to secure the speakership.