- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
A candidate for Montana's U.S. House seat described his characterization of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the "anti-Christ" as "a little bit too harsh."
A former Navy SEAL and state senator, Ryan Zinke defended his remarks by saying that he was merely joking and added that he "had two friends in Benghazi and the truth does matter."
Zinke, a Republican who held office for two terms starting in 2009, made the initial remark after he said he became overly emotional while discussing the death of two former Navy SEALs who died in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.
"We need to focus on the real enemy," he told supporters.
The Congressional candidate, a former Navy SEAL himself, opened his remarks at his fundraiser by criticizing President Barack Obama and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for undermining the credibility of the government.
"It's time to stop the lies. Let's talk about the truth. Who trusts the U.S. government?" asked Zinke, as reported by The Flathead News Group. "No one in this room. I've served in 25 nations. I've seen where people don't trust their government. We're there. In the military, the last option is to send in the SEALs."
Zinke has made his concern over the way the Obama administration handled Benghazi a substantial focal point of his campaign. On his campaign Facebook page on Feb. 3, he wrote, "It's unfortunate that President Obama and his advisors in the State Department can't agree on a foreign policy that adequately goes after the terrorist threat. We need to focus on preventative measures that protect Americans before an attack occurs, not after. We don't need another Benghazi."
Over the course of his military career, Zinke was awarded two Bronze Stars for active combat duty and also was part of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He is currently one of five Republicans who is vying for a seat that is currently held by Rep. Steve Daines. Daines recently announced that he working towards replacing Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, who was recently named the Obama administration's new ambassador to China.
In 2012, Zinke formed a super PAC, Special Operations for America, to give the constituency a way to express their disappointment and frustrations with the president.
"Navy SEALs, Special Operations Personnel and Veterans across America have been outraged since Barack Obama conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain," a statement announcing the launch of the organization said. "The active duty military has no voice as they are forbidden to publicly engage in the political campaign process and it is career suicide for senior military leaders to speak out against the President," Zinke explained to the Associated Press.