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Fox News poll: Obama could have done more to help those in Benghazi

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Sept. 11, 2012: A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames. (Reuters)

Voters think President Obama could have done more to help the Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya when it was being attacked, according to a Fox News poll.  In addition, a majority says the Obama administration is trying to cover-up what happened there.  

The new poll, released Tuesday, shows 62 percent of voters think Obama could have done more to help those at the consulate in Benghazi on the night of the attack.  

Even Democrats are about equally likely to say the president could have done more (44 percent) as to say he did all he could (43 percent).  Eighty-four percent of Republicans and 60 percent of independents think Obama could have done more.  

Nearly two-thirds of voters who have served in the military think Obama could have done more.

The violent attack on the anniversary of September 11 killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.  

Overall, 27 percent think the president did everything he could to help.  

In 2008, Obama pledged to have the most open and transparent administration ever.  On Benghazi, voters say the opposite is true:  A 60-percent majority says the administration is covering up what happened.  That’s more than twice as many as the 28 percent who say the Obama administration is being open and transparent.  

Sixty percent of independents and a third of Democrats (33 percent) think the administration is hiding something on Benghazi.  Almost all Republicans think so (88 percent).  

Who should get more of the blame for what happened in Libya?  About equal numbers say Obama should get more of the blame (32 percent) as say former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (31 percent).  About one in six volunteers the response “neither” (16 percent) and about one in 10 says “both” are to blame (11 percent).

Republicans are more likely to blame Obama than Clinton by an 18 percentage-point margin. Democrats are more likely to blame Clinton by 12 points.  Independents divide the blame evenly (28 percent Clinton, 27 percent Obama).  

During Congressional hearings, Clinton was asked about who caused the violence in Benghazi.  She answered with her now famous rhetorical question: “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”  

A 56-percent majority disagrees with her.  Thirty-three percent of voters agree with Clinton’s assessment.  

Voters were also asked why the Obama administration changed the CIA explanation about the attack to remove references to al Qaeda.  Half of voters (50 percent) think the administration made the change for political reasons to bolster the president’s campaign claim that al Qaeda was “on the run.”  On the other side, 37 percent think the changes were made for security reasons related to the on-going initial investigation.  

The administration initially said the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous protest sparked by a controversial online video.  Later the White House acknowledged it was a planned terrorist attack and not a protest or a demonstration.

In general, a 53-percent majority disapproves of how the administration has handled the response to the attack in Benghazi.  That includes about one in four Democrats (24 percent disapprove) and over half of independents (54 percent).

About a third of voters (32 percent) approve of the administration’s handling of Benghazi.  

Interest in this story is high:  75 percent of voters say they are following news about Benghazi.  That includes 35 percent who are following it “very” closely and another 40 percent “somewhat” closely.  

Republicans (44 percent) are more likely than independents (35 percent) and Democrats (28 percent) to be following news about Benghazi “very” closely.  

When asked about the relative importance of the three scandals currently facing the White House, more voters are concerned about the IRS targeting of groups (32 percent) than Benghazi (27 percent) or the Justice Department seizing the phone records of Associated Press reporters (21 percent).  Another 10 percent says “all” of the current controversies are equally concerning.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,013 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from May 18 to May 20.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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