The Monica Lewinsky affair of the ’90s has resurfaced in recent days, due in large part to attention drawn to it by presidential nominee contender Rand Paul and other prominent Republicans. This Sunday, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney essentially told Republicans to knock it off.
Mitt Romney was largely viewed as clumsy and stiff on the campaign trail, but many still view him as a major spokesman for the GOP, particularly those in the moderate wing of the party.
According to an NBC News report, Romney says that Bill Clinton embarrassed the country with his behavior in the Monica Lewinsky affair, but that wife Hillary Clinton should not be judged by the former president’s indiscretions. Rather, he suggests, should Hillary choose to make a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, she should be judged on her own record as a New York Senator and Secretary of State.
Conservatives will certainly find plenty to talk about when it comes to Hillary’s personal record. The Benghazi affair will undoubtedly get plenty of airplay by any candidate facing Hillary in 2016. Her support for Obamacare will also garner significant attention. Republicans will probably discuss her role in the ongoing situation in Syria.
But Republicans disagree about whether subjects like the Monica Lewinsky affair, Hillary’s alleged bisexuality, her well publicized opinions of the former White House intern, or her decision to stick with the philandering Bill in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal are fair game or off limits.
Obviously, Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul thinks the subject is fair game. Piggybacking on comments his wife made to Vogue, the Republican senator from Kentucky is quoted as saying:
“I would say his (Bill Clinton’s) behavior was predatory, offensive to women. I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this. He took advantage of a girl that was 20-years-old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that and that is predatory behavior.”
Paul was quick to add that he doesn’t think Hillary should be held accountable for her husband’s behavior. However, given the fact that both Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton are likely contenders for their parties’ 2016 presidential nominations, many view Paul’s choice to “go there” as a reflection of how he would conduct a campaign against Hillary in 2016, should the two become their parties’ nominees.
Sen. Paul isn’t the only one who thinks the Monica Lewinsky affair is fair game. According to a CBS News opinion piece, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has also gone on the attack against a potential Hillary 2016 presidential run. Priebus is quoted as tweeting, “Remember all the Clinton scandals. That’s not what America needs again.” The tweets reportedly link to a petition to keep the Clintons out of the White House.
Of course, the Monica Lewinsky affair isn’t the only Clinton scandal Priebus could have been referring to, but conventional wisdom suggests that he was at least partially pointing to former President Clinton’s high profile affair with the then-20 year old White House intern.
For his part, Romney has stated that he does not intend to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. He seems content to be a spokesman for the more moderate elements of the party. As NBC reports him saying:
“I think by and large people who lose a presidential race, well, they step aside.”
What do you think? Is Romney being the voice of reason or is he selling out when he says things like:
“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.”
Is the Monica Lewinsky scandal fair game or will focusing on it backfire for Republicans who chose to focus on the Bill Clinton’s offenses? A recent survey suggests that the American people, by and large, have forgiven Bill Clinton and have long since put the Monica Lewinsky affair behind them.
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