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Political Notebook

Kerry calls for facts, not politics, in Libya inquiry

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry at a hearing on Sept. 19.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry at a hearing on Sept. 19.

Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is calling on his colleagues to dial down the political mudslinging over the deadly terrorist attack on a US consulate in Libya and allow the independent investigation to proceed.

“I am deeply disturbed by efforts to find politics instead of finding facts in this debate,” Kerry said in a statement late Friday, urging his colleagues to “take a deep breath” about the attack that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, earlier this month and to allow the State Department investigation to unfold.

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He specifically cited calls by some in the Republican Party for Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, to resign over accusations that the Obama administration has not been forthcoming about the details of the attack in Benghazi, which officials now say was linked to Al Qaeda and not a spontaneous reaction to an ­anti-Muslim film clip.

In a CNN interview Friday, Representative Peter King, a New York Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, accused Rice of “a failure of foreign policy message and leadership” and “a misstatement of facts.”

“I believe she should resign,” King said.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has also criticized the Obama administration over the incident, accusing the White House and State Department of playing down the terrorist link.

“I think it’s pretty clear that they haven’t wanted to level with the American people,” Romney told Fox News Channel last week. “We expect candor from the president and transparency.”

The Obama administration maintains that it has only recently been able to confirm terrorist links to the attack on the consulate, where the US ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and three others were killed in an assault by well-armed militants on Sept. 11.

But within hours of the first reports of the Benghazi attack US intelligence officials said they were investigating the possibility of a well-planned terror attack because of the seeming sophistication of the assault.

Kerry came to Rice’s defense on Friday, calling her “a remarkable public servant . . . for whom the liberation of the Libyan people has been a personal issue and a public mission.”

Also on Friday, all 19 members of Kerry’s committee urged the State Department in a letter to to expand the scope of the official inquiry.

— Bryan Bender

2 Democrats face off in California race

Representative Howard Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House ­Foreign Relations ­Committee, has made more than 150 trips abroad during his three ­decades in Washington.

His opponent in November, Representative Brad Sherman, with more than 15 years in Congress, has traveled mainly within San Fernando Valley, where he has held more than 150 town hall-style meetings.

In the closely watched race between two incumbent ­Democrats — set against each other by redistricting and by a state law that pits the top two primary finishers against each other, regardless of party — nearly the entire California Democratic establishment has lined up behind Berman.

But Berman’s party support has, thus far, found its match in Sherman’s local appeal.

In June, Sherman finished 10 points ahead of Berman in the primary.

— New York Times

‘Live free and prosper,’ Paul Ryan says in New Hampshire

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke at a campaign rally on Saturday in Derry, N.H.

Jim Cole/Associated Press

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke at a campaign rally on Saturday in Derry, N.H.

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan put his own spin on New Hampshire’s ‘‘Live Free or Die’’ motto as he rallied supporters in the battleground state.

Speaking in Derry on Saturday morning, Ryan contrasted the economic stagnation he says will continue if President Obama is reelected with the prosperity he and Mitt Romney will create. He declared that the ‘‘Live Free or Die’’ state wants to ‘‘live free and prosper.’’

It was Ryan’s second trip in as many weeks to New Hampshire, which backed Obama in 2008 but is now believed close.

— Associated Press

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