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Hillary Clinton's tearful moment on Benghazi: Will it help or hurt?

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The famously self-contained President Obama cried on the eve of his election in 2008 when talking about his grandmother, who had passed on that day. He also was caught on video tearing up while thanking campaign workers after the 2012 election. 

More recently, Mr. Obama appeared to cry while delivering a statement about the Newtown shootings – pausing for several seconds, as if trying to compose himself, and wiping his eyes. That moment, more than anything else, has given weight to the argument that Obama's push for gun-control legislation is heartfelt, something that he feels personally compelled to do, regardless of the politics. 

On the other side of the aisle, House Speaker John Boehner cries so frequently in public it's become something of a joke. He famously broke down during an interview on "60 Minutes," and during his 2011 swearing-in on the House floor he wound up weeping into a handkerchief.

Ironically, Clinton herself may be partly responsible for the trend. 

During the 2008 Democratic primary, after she lost the Iowa caucuses, Clinton's high-profile moment of tears while answering a question about the personal toll of the campaign drew more commentary and analysis than almost anything else. Despite much hand-wringing about whether it might be seen as a sign of weakness, the general conclusion was that it helped her – since she went on to win the New Hampshire primary.

Clinton may or may not run for president in 2016. And if she does take the plunge, it's pretty clear that Benghazi will continue to be a line of attack for her opponents.

But her teary testimony on the matter certainly won't hurt – and, as with other "human" moments she's shown in recent years, will probably prove helpful.

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