Republicans, Downey said, should let the politics play out in terms of which charges gain the most traction.
Some strategists say the Benghazi narrative may prove more valuable for congressional Republicans in next year's elections than in 2016. House Republicans, in particular, can seize on Benghazi to motivate their base and donors, and to fend off possible primary challenges from the right.
Democrats say Republicans are exploiting the Benghazi deaths, and voters won't like it.
"Republicans are a desperate party right now, trying to do whatever they can to dirty up the president to make some gains in 2014, and to dirty up Secretary Clinton because they're terrified she'll walk into the White House," said Democratic consultant Doug Thornell. "This is an attempt to keep their base together and motivated" after Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012.
Thornell predicted Benghazi will prove no more useful as a political "scandal" than did the highly criticized "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking program and the federally subsidized but ultimately doomed Solyndra energy company.
White House press secretary Jay Carney has spent hours trying to dismiss GOP accusations, including those that Obama sought to hide the fact that Islamic terrorists were behind the Benghazi attack.
"The whole effort here by Republicans to find some hidden mystery comes to nothing because the president called it an act of terror," Carney told reporters Friday.
Benghazi may remain a white-hot topic in many conservative regions and talk shows for some time.
At Wednesday's hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., told relatives of the four Americans killed in Benghazi that her constituents "think about you all the time."
Follow Charles Babington on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbabington
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