The Republican National Committee was prepared in the waning days of the 2012 election to release an ad blaming President Obama for not preventing the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.
ABC News first obtained the ad, which the RNC made last fall but then never released.
The spot opens with the intro to Hillary Clinton's infamous "3 a.m. phone call" ad from the contentious 2008 Democratic primary. The ad asked which candidate would be best suited to handle a late-night national security crisis. From there, the RNC ad cuts to footage of the burning U.S. consulate and the sounds of gunfire, overlaid with the message: "The Call Came on September 11, 2012."
According to ABC, the RNC dropped the ad at the last minute due to objections from the Romney campaign, which thought it would overshadow his sales pitch on the economy. The Washington Post has also confirmed that Team Romney asked the RNC to dump the video.
Romney had been roundly criticized for attacking the president's handling of the Benghazi situation, with commentators saying the GOP standard-bearer was taking advantage of a national security crisis to score political points. Romney later came out on the losing end of a back-and-forth over the incident in one of the presidential debates (you may recall that he accused the president of not calling it a terror attack, though Obama and ultimately moderator Candy Crowley both corrected him).
After the election, some of Romney's former staffers suggested that his bungling of that foreign policy issue contributed to his defeat in November.
"The governor felt snake bit by the reaction to our public pronouncement," a senior adviser told the Washington Post last year. "I think it made him shy about aggressively prosecuting the Benghazi case against the Obama administration."
With the election over though, Republicans are once again pressing the Benghazi issue. They held a so-called whistle-blower hearing on Wednesday to bolster supposed evidence of an alleged White House cover-up of the attack. A Republican opposition research firm has even cut a new ad from that testimony.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- Vox, derp, and the intellectual stagnation of the left
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
Subscribe to the Week