Romney: Keep focus on Hillary’s record at State

posted at 12:01 pm on February 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Should Republicans rehash the Monica Lewinsky scandal if Hillary Clinton bids to win the 2016 Democratic nomination for President, or will that distract from efforts to hold her accountable for her own record? The previous Republican nominee has some advice for his party, offered on Meet the Press with David Gregory yesterday (via The Week):

The Monica Lewinsky scandal shouldn’t be used in Republicans’ case against Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential bid, Mitt Romney said Sunday.

The last Republican presidential nominee cautioned whoever would be the next GOP standard-bearer to steer away from attacks against Bill Clinton, whom Romney said had “breached his responsibility” and “embarrassed” the nation as president by engaging in an extra-marital affair in office.

But he added, “I don’t think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president.”

“She has her own record and her own vision,” Romney said on “Meet the Press” Sunday. … “I think Hillary Clinton if she becomes the nominee will have plenty to discuss about her own record,” he said. “I don’t imagine that Bill Clinton will be a big part of it.”

Rand Paul justified his focus on Lewinsky on an earlier show, putting it in the context of the Democrats’ “war on women” and the lack of media outrage over Bill Clinton’s behavior:

I have no illusions in determining which person would win with conservatives outside the context of this argument. In this case, though, the establishment, Northeastern, Massachusetts Republican with two losing bids for President is correct.

This was a losing argument for Republicans when Bill Clinton was on the ticket himself, in 1992, 1996, and a final time in 1998’s midterms that was defined by the Lewinsky affair and the GOP reaction to it. The “bimbo eruptions” started early in 1992, but the carefully-prepared Clintons disarmed it in a 60 Minutes interview, and went on to win a three-way race for the presidency. The 1996 election was mostly a replay with a weaker Republican challenger. By 1998, the Lewinsky affair had exploded onto the national scene, and Republicans impeached Clinton in the House while failing to remove him in the Senate for perjury and obstruction in a related lawsuit. But instead of gaining seats in Congress, as the opposition party almost always does against a President in sixth-year midterms, Republicans made no gains in the Senate and lost a handful of seats in the House.

The desire to relitigate 1998 to go back and win this argument is understandable, but it’s futile. At least at the time it had the virtue of relevance, to both the time and the person. In this case it’s irrelevant to both, unless we want to blame Hillary for her husband’s philandering. If Paul thinks that will help Republicans win the PR battle in “the war on women,” he’s going to find himself sadly mistaken. Most voters won’t even remember 1998 by the time 2016 rolls around, and those that do may be looking back fondly on the era’s economics rather than worry about its ethics. That’s not the kind of nostalgia that’s going to win Republican votes.

Romney’s right. We need to focus on Hillary Clinton’s record as an executive, which is as embarrassing as it is short. Mostly, though, we need to produce a Republican candidate with a clear record of success as an executive, implementing conservative policies that worked, and one that will expand the reach of the GOP. We’ll do that by talking about the future, not obsessing over frustrating losses of the past.

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Schadenfreude on February 18, 2014 at 12:24 PM

After running tens of thousands of PERSONAL HATE advertisements against CONSERVATIVES during the last Presidential election, Romney now claims it is not RESPONSIBLE to attack the liberal opposition in the same manner in the next election? Romney exposed his personal HATRED of conservatives through his own despicable actions.

How is is possible to see these statements as anything but another reason that Romney never deserved conservative votes in the last election?

I do think it’s too simplistic to say that he lost simply because he’s a RINO. Which conservative do you think would have beat Obama? Cain? Gingrich? Santorum?
GOPRanknFile on February 17, 2014 at 3:21 PM

In the end, Romney carried NO STATE that Gingrich or Santorum would also have won. The question is actually could Gingrich or Santorum brought out the conservatives to vote states like Ohio and Florida?

Freddy on February 18, 2014 at 12:33 PM

How depressing that we have to even start discussing Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate. Her career should be over. In a just world you don’t get to be greedy and corrupt, have a resume of mediocre and questionable accomplishments, an ongoing investigation of what happened during your watch at State, and still get to have a crack at the WH. What could she possibly run on except the same old talking points she ran on in 08. I don’t think she could possibly win, she’s about as fresh and appealing as a week old tuna sandwich you left in your car.

scalleywag on February 18, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Here is what we have for a brain trust in the GOP: the great swami of Ohio with a whiteboard, a timid candidate who brought us the precursor to Obamacare, a guy who walks lock step with the US chamber of crony capitalism that has a name no one can pronounce, and a talk show cheerleader who used to bang on drywall. No wonder the Grand Old Progressives are in such bad shape

Brock Robamney on February 18, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Yeah, let’s liston to the guy who passed his own version of Obamacare and lost to Obama, good plan huh?

Dollayo on February 18, 2014 at 4:34 PM

hateofcountry on February 17, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Tell us again what Hillary is going to run on…

Del Dolemonte on February 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM

She is going to run on SHUT YOU RACIST SEXIST !!! THAT’S WHAT !!!


cableguy615 on February 18, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3