Who Is Mary Commanday? She Wants Trump To Stop Using Her Son’s Death As A Talking Point
Many people were surprised (and not particularly impressed) when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump decided to eschew tradition at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and spend much of the first night focusing on the Benghazi attacks — and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's role in it as then-Secretary of State. But amidst the criticism directed his way, one voice is standing out in particular. Who is Mary Commanday? Commanday is the mother of late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack by terrorists. Stevens' mother published a short letter in The New York Times Friday, publicly objecting to the use of Stevens' name and memory by Trump and the GOP, who she argued has been using it for political gain. Speaking up on her son's behalf, she wrote,
Commanday's statement came after a number of speeches during the opening night of the RNC, which held the theme, "Make America Safe Again." Many people spoke about the Benghazi attack and used it to argue that Clinton is unsuitable to lead. According to the RNC website, speakers that evening included Pat Smith, mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith; and Mark Geist and John Teigen, who were members of the Benghazi Annex Security Team.
Trump discussed Benghazi and Clinton again during his own speech on Thursday, when he said, according to NPR,
Last night was Benghazi night but tonight is also Benghazi night— John Hendrickson (@JohnGHendy) July 20, 2016
While the Benghazi attack has been an important focal point for many of Clinton's critics, and while, certainly, Smith, Geist, and Teigen felt strongly enough to speak out against her at the RNC, Commanday's letter wasn't the first time a member of Stevens' family has said that they don't agree with the GOP's position.
In an interview with The New Yorker in June, Stevens' sister, Anne Stevens, said that she and her family didn't blame Clinton for her brother's death:
Stevens also spoke about the ways in which (as her mother mentioned) she felt her brother's death had been politicized unfairly:
Chris Stevens, along with three other Americans, died in an attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. A resulting "two-year, seven-million-dollar investigation," which culminated in a final report, released in June, criticized Clinton, Panetta, and the CIA, according to The New Yorker, but did not consider them to be at fault for the deaths.