Donald Trump has already starting rehashing some of the greatest hits from the collection of Clinton demi-scandals going back to 1992. Last week, Trump brought up Vince Foster and on Monday he posted a video on Instagram in which two women accuse Bill Clinton of sexual assault and rape:
The Hill reports that Democrats are urging the Clinton team to continue to ignore the attacks based on her past:
“You hear one presidential candidate talking about something 30 years ago, blaming her for his actions and blaming her for not leaving her husband and things like that,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told The Hill. “While she’s at the same time talking about solutions to these issues, I don’t think it works at all for Trump.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said the Trump attacks underscore that he’s “a candidate that doesn’t really have a principled stance and will do anything in order to try to win the presidency.”
“If he wants to talk about Vince Foster’s death being a suicide, Americans don’t want a conspiracy theorist in office,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told The Hill. “If he wants to talk about that or his belief that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States… these wacky theories, he’s going to be the National Enquirer candidate basically.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the Trump campaign has already “jumped the shark.”
“He’s essentially accusing her of murder, and ultimately I think the American people will respond,” he added. “Imagine what he’s going to be saying in September or October.”
It may be Clinton’s best play to ignore the attacks and hope that they backfire. Certainly if he keeps talking about Vince Foster they will. The attacks on Bill Clinton may be another matter. Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) were in love with Bill Clinton during the 90s, in a way not seen again until Obama in 2008. Stories of his infidelities were always treated as a sideshow and an inconvenience. But times have changed. Younger people, who weren’t around or paying attention in 1992, don’t have the same assumptions about Democrats getting a pass on sexual misconduct, much less rape. If Bill Cosby can face the music after so many years, maybe Bill Clinton should as well.
There is another downside for Clinton. Donald Trump has said a lot of potentially scandalous things in his past as well. We’ve already seen stories about his comments on the Howard Stern show, about his comments about 9/11, etc. There is probably a basement worth of similar material waiting to be revealed at Clinton headquarters when they decide they need a bump in the polls. But if Clinton establishes a precedent now, i.e. old news and old scandals can be ignored, it will be difficult to demand the media pay attention to Trump’s old news.
Hillary has to decide if she is prepared to go negative this year. If she does, she can expect Trump to come back at her twice as hard.