WASHINGTON, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya could hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2016 White House run, but only if the Republican Party (GOP) continues to push the issue and keeps its message simple, experts say.
The 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, has been repeatedly used by the Republicans to attack Clinton over her performance as a secretary of state.
"It seems likely that, in Republican primaries, candidates vying for the Republican nomination will bring up Benghazi as a point against Hillary Clinton, because this will work with Republican audiences," said Clay Ramsay, research director at the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes.
However, the problem for candidates planning to attack Clinton over this incident is that Benghazi is now a secondary issue, or even less, for most Americans, Ramsay said.
Amid a flaccid recovery from the worst recession in decades, jobs and the economy continue to top the list of Americans' concerns.
"So, in the public's mind, for a candidate to restate the Benghazi argument frequently will mark him or her as living in the past somewhat," Ramsay said.
Still, some experts believe Clinton could be harmed by the controversy if the Republicans push the issue skillfully.
"One of the ways (Republicans) try to simplify it is they say 'four dead Americans and no answers,'" Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.
Indeed, Republicans will try to make the case that Clinton's time at the State Department was marked by a lack of competence and leadership, O'Connell said.
In perhaps a hint of what to expect as 2016 gets closer, Clinton last week canceled an appearance as keynote speaker at an event in San Diego after protests from local military families over her alleged cover up of facts regarding the Benghazi attacks.
Critics have also argued that Clinton made no significant achievements as secretary of state, simply trotting the globe in a bid to prepare for her White House run, although her proponents say her outlining of the "Pivot to Asia" was a major achievement that is often overlooked.