Dickerson: Clinton Benghazi testimony will affect 2016 presidential run

(CBS News) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "may want to some day be President Clinton," said CBS News Political Director John Dickerson today on CBS This Morning, but first she has to "get past" today'sSenate hearings on the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

"If she has ambitions for the presidency later," Dickerson argued, "she has to answer these questions in a way that doesn't irritate the central irritation for Republicans, which is that the response has constantly been political, that nobody has gotten a straight story,"

"Underneath that, of course, are the substantive questions," he continued. "What did they know about the situation in Libya before this happened and were they asleep at the switch?"

Dickerson also addressed Congressional Republicans' recent decision to avoid a fight over the debt limit and instead use the budgetary process to force spending reductions.

"The Republican strategy is to take some of the heat off of them," Dickerson said. "They looked at the situation, saw that they would get an excessive amount of blame if there continued to be this fight over the debt limit, and so they said, 'Let's take some of the heat off of us, we have other fights we can engage in on these crucial questions of spending.'"

Republicans have unveiled their latest move, "No Budget, No Pay", which would freeze congressional pay until lawmakers pass a budget. As a result, Dickerson said, "We're talking about the fact that the Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in four years."

Dickerson also touched on the controversy surrounding a recent Slate magazine article he wrote, arguing that President Obama must "pulverize" and "destroy" the GOP in a second term to be able to work his will.

"It's been a strong reaction from some conservatives," Dickerson said. "They thought I was giving the president my personal advice. I wasn't trying to give advice, I was trying to highlight in a very stark way what seems an impossible to avoid conclusion about this second term."

"We know the president wants to be transformational and not just bounce along in his second term, Dickerson explained. "We also know he doesn't have much time before he's a lame duck. He's picked a controversial agenda for a second term. And most important he's decided essentially to write off trying to cajole and schmooze the house GOP. So given all of those facts, what does an ambitious president try to do?"

"The only solution I could come up with is that he gets aggressive," Dickerson said. And after a combative inaugural address, it turns out the president might agree. "I wrote this before the inauguration. Now he's given a speech that suggests that's exactly what he's going to do."

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