Republicans presidential candidates on Saturday found something new to talk about in the final days before the Iowa caucuses.
News on Friday that the State Department designated 22 of the emails Hillary Clinton sent or received on her private server as “top secret” gave Republicans fresh reasons to attack her as they compete for their party’s nomination.
“This thing with her emails is a big deal,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told more than 300 people Saturday morning in Sioux City, Iowa. “What she did is because she believes she's above the law.”
Then Rubio repeated a line he likes to use on the stump: “One of the first things Hillary Clinton will have to do as president is pardon herself. Of course, she's never going to be president.”
Clinton has been under fire for months for exclusively using personal email routed through a private server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat. The FBI launched an inquiry into the handling of sensitive information after classified information was found in some of the emails.
Jeb Bush, also speaking in Sioux City, Iowa, said Clinton lied.
“She has said she has done nothing wrong. But she’s has lied. She’s under investigation by the FBI,” he said. “I can take it to Hillary Clinton because my life is an open book.”
At least 1,582 emails that Clinton sent or received contained classified material, most at the lowest level, “confidential,” according to the State Department’s latest update from its ongoing review of more than 30,000 emails. The 22 unreleased emails are not part of that number.
None of Clinton’s emails was marked as classified during her tenure, State Department officials say, but intelligence officials say some material was clearly classified at the time. Her aides also sent and received classified information.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the scandal would harm her candidacy.
“We are talking about serious offenses for which the Obama Justice Department threw the book at General (David) Petraeus,” he said. “And justice needs to be enforced fairly and impartially.”
Carly Fiorina told FOX News: “She’s going to have to be held accountable on a general election debate stage.”
Republican front-runner Donald Trump tweeted: “Hillary Clinton is a major national security risk. Not presidential material!”
Lesley Clark and Patricia Mazzei contributed.