Republican front-runner Donald Trump revived Bill Clinton's past marital indiscretions this week, attacking Hillary Clinton on Twitter and on TV for playing the "women's card" and saying her husband's past affairs would be fair game.
Trump took a different tact in the late '90s, when the scandal was at its peak, defending then-President Bill Clinton against the "moralists" and hypocrites in Congress and arguing that the scandal wouldn't have been that bad if only Clinton had chosen to carry on an affair with a supermodel instead.
"I got a chuckle out of all the moralists in Congress and in the media who expressed public outrage at the president's immoral behavior," wrote Trump in The America We Deserve . "I happen to know that one U.S. senator leading the pack of attackers spent more than a few nights with his twenty-something girlfriend at a hotel I own. There's also a conservative columnist, married, who was particularly rough on Clinton in this regard. He also brought his girlfriend to my resorts for the weekend. Their hypocrisy is amazing."
Trump also wrote that Clinton should have refused to talk about his personal life.
"When confronted with the Lewinsky matter, Clinton should have stoutly refused to discuss his private life," wrote Trump. "He should also have declined to answer, rather than perjure himself. If the Clinton affair proves anything it is that the American people don't care about the private lives and personal of our political leaders so long as they are doing the job."
The Republican front-runner, who has his own history of extra-marital relations, also wrote in his 2000 book that the American people were tired of hearing about Clinton's private life. "Think for a second about what the entire political world was obsessing over throughout 1998 and part of 1999: Monica," wrote Trump. "I think the national consciousness has been deeply scarred. Americans have been drained of their spirit by the entire Clinton-Lewinsky impeachment fiasco. I think the voters want both Clintons offstage and want to put the whole sordid mess behind us. That's what they mean by Clinton fatigue."
Trump at one point compared himself directly to Bill Clinton, telling CNBC in 1998, "Can you imagine how controversial I'd be? You think about him with the women. How about me with the women? Can you imagine?"
In a 2000 interview with Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Trump even suggested people would have been more forgiving if Clinton had cheated on Hillary with a beautiful woman of sophistication.
"He handled the Monica situation disgracefully. It's sad because he would go down as a great president if he had not had this scandal," said Trump. "People would have been more forgiving if he'd had an affair with a really beautiful woman of sophistication. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were on a different level. Now Clinton can't get into golf clubs in Westchester. A former president begging to get in a golf club. It's unthinkable.''
In another Times story in 1999, Trump said Clinton would have been considered a hero if he cheated with a supermodel:
For example, Trump disapproves of President Clinton's behavior in the White House over the past four years, though he suggested that he was bothered less by what Clinton did, than by whom he did it with.
"It was his choice," Trump said. "It was Monica! I mean, terrible choice." Trump, who showed off fashion magazines displaying cover-art of the latest in a line of models he has dated, suggested that if Clinton had confessed an improper relationship ( Trump offered a more earthy phrase to get the idea across) with a supermodel, as a opposed to a White House intern, "he would have been everybody's hero."
"I'm not making any justification for cheating on your wife," added Trump, whose own extracurricular marital activities have been a tabloid staple.
On Tuesday, Trump attacked the Clintons on Today, saying, "Well, if you look at the different situations; of course, we can name many of them. I can get you a list and I'll have it sent to your office in two seconds."
"But there were certainly a lot of abuse of women," Trump added. "And you look at whether it's Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones or many of them, and that certainly will be fair game, certainly if they play the woman's card with respect to me, that will be fair game."
And on Twitter Monday, he said this:
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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