Donald Trump's campaign is instructing its supporters to use figures like Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers to beat back concerns about how Trump described a former winner of "Miss Universe," according to a copy of Wednesday campaign talking points obtained by CNN....Surrogates are already reading from the script:
"Mr. Trump has never treated women the way Hillary Clinton and her husband did when they actively worked to destroy Bill Clinton's accusers," one talking point reads.
"Hillary Clinton bullied and smeared women like Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky," reads another.
"Are you blaming Hillary for Bill's infidelities? No, however, she's been an active participant in trying to destroy the women who has come forward with a claim," reads a third.
"I find it so interesting that there continues to be this conversation about what he has said when you look at what she has done: Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky. My goodness," Congressman Marsha Blackburn told MSNBC.In this campaign, Trump has been successful while doing a lot of things that should have been recipes for failure, so I don't want to be overconfident about the likelihood that this gambit will fail.
The story's relevance to Hillary Clinton, Blackburn said, was that the former secretary of state and first lady had been "vindictive" to women who had claimed a sexual relationship with the former president.
Trump's deputy campaign manager David Bossie took a similar tack, telling Fox News on Wednesday that Clinton was an "enabler" of her husband's behavior. Rep. Chris Collins, another Trump surrogate, told MSNBC that "the women that Bill Clinton was involved with saw the wrath of Hillary Clinton."
But I think it will -- and not just because, as New York's Margaret Hartmann notes, it's never worked before:
Republican strategist Tim Miller and Katie Packer, who do not support Trump, told NBC News that in focus groups conducted before the primaries they found the attack was ineffective with female swing voters.Here's a further problem: As Hartmann notes, "There isn’t much public evidence to prove that Hillary was 'vindictive' toward Bill’s accusers." Hillary's alleged vindictiveness toward Bill's women hasn't been a big part of the horndog-Bill story -- except for conservatives, who've turned multiple books about the Clintons' evil into bestsellers, and who collect evil-Hillary anecdotes like hoarders.
“These voters were completely turned off and disgusted by it,” Miller said. “We found time and again these attacks turned Hillary into a victim and that it engendered sympathy for her.”
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers agreed that the strategy is likely to backfire. Hillary’s popularity rose to 67 percent at the height of the Lewinsky scandal...
Trump and most of the members of his inner circle are consumers and/or producers of this sort of material, so they're steeped in the lore. They're likely to think that all they have to do is allude to these anecdotes and the public will nod knowingly and say, "Yeah, and remember what that witch did to Dolly Kyle Browning?" That's a mistake Trump made in the debate on Monday: alluding to stories that are widely known in the right-wing fever swamps without explaining them to people who do other things in their spare time besides watch Fox.
And there's the further possibility that some of the stories Trump and his surrogates will cite are just plain nuts. Oliver Willis of Media Matters says that Trump's breiefing book on this subject is The Clintons' War on Wonen, a book coauthored by Trump's sociopath buddy Roger Stone.
Former Trump adviser Michael Caputo, guest hosting on the September 25 edition of WBEN’s Hardline, said he “heard more than one time Donald Trump say” that Stone’s book The Clintons’ War on Women “is his opposition research on the Clintons.” He added that Trump “has it on his desk.”How out there is the book? Here's a gushing write-up from Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller:
... Trump has promoted Morrow and Stone’s book on his Twitter account. In January, after claiming that Bill Clinton was “one of the great woman abusers of all time," Trump cited Stone’s book for his claim that Hillary Clinton "went after the women very, very strongly and very viciously, according to the women and according to other sources."
The book recounts the stories of about two dozen women ... who have stepped forward to claim that President Clinton sexually assaulted them. Some of the women received settlements of hundreds of thousands of dollars, some of them claim to have had their pets killed, their jobs terminated, their businesses audited by the IRS, their tires slashed, or to have received odd phone calls or queries from strange bypassing joggers about the health of their children.Oh, Donald, go there. Please go there. I can really imagine a debate moment in which Hillary Clinton makes a reference to Chelsea as "my daughter" and Trump interrupts with "If she is your daughter."
That’s just the first 100 pages of the book.... That only brings us up through Bill Clinton being elected president, and doesn’t even get us to Monica Lewinsky.... Nor to tales of drug sales, money laundering, and other chicanery.
But it does raise a question: what kind of sociopath would actually have a child by a serial rapist? Or even by someone who seems to be routinely accused of sexual assaults?
According to Stone, not Hillary Clinton. Chelsea Clinton is not Bill Clinton’s child, and has had extensive plastic surgery, both to make herself more attractive ... and to make herself less the spitting image of her real dad, Web Hubbell.
Maybe all this will work for Trump. This year, who knows? As I say, I don't want to become overconfident. But fortunately, there are so many pitfalls for him.
BUT I MEANT TO ADD: I don't agree with the conventional wisdom that this is a bad idea for Trump because it brings up his infidelities. I think the public is going to continue to be non-judgmental about Trump's sex life, as long as we're talking just about multiple marriages and relationships. If any of the rape allegations out there begin to be taken seriously, that's a different story. But that doesn't seem to be happening, so I don't think Trump's sex life is going to be alienating voters.