Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee for the Democratic ticket for 2016 presidential race thought that the one person her campaign could count on was her husband former President Bill Clinton. After all, the 42nd U.S. President is an engaging charismatic speaker who can pack a room. While Hillary is an awkward public speaker who, despite all of her coaching has difficulty exuding warmth, silver tongued Bill could charm a snake. The Clinton campaign strategists struggling with all the feedback that Hillary is cold and untrustworthy, thought that deploying Bill on the campaign trail would soften Hillary’s edges. Furthermore, they reasoned that giving Bill a role in the administration would also be a boon for Hillary. Consequently, Mr. Clinton was anointed the in-house jobs czar “in charge of revitalizing the economy”.
Well, as it turns out putting Bubba on the stump and dusting off the old 1992 “two for the price of one” slogan which heralded Mrs. Clinton’s arrival in The White House as the “first” first lady with a policy role might not have turned out to be such a great idea. First of all, entrusting Bill who according to Hillary “still has some pep in his step” with an economic policy role resurrects the debate as to how successful the Clinton administration’s economy actually was. According to clinton.procon.org, Bill Clinton’s supporters contend that during the Clinton Administration (1993-2001), “the U.S. enjoyed the lowest unemployment and inflation rates in recent history, high home ownership, low crime rates, and a budget surplus.” And they credit Clinton with eliminating the federal deficit and reforming welfare, despite being forced to deal with a Republican-controlled Congress.
On the other hand, Clinton’s opponents say that the economic prosperity of the Clinton years was due to “other factors” and that Clinton is responsible for the policies which precipitated the financial crisis that began in 2007. Furthermore, putting Bill in charge of “job creation” is reminiscent of Bill putting Hillary in charge of healthcare. And of course, we all remember how well that turned out.
Inserting Bill prominently in both the campaign and the “Hillary Clinton” administration makes Bill and his past fair game for the opposition. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had repeatedly stated that he had not even started on “crooked Hillary”. Well, now that the presidential race has pivoted to a Trump/Clinton match up, the Trump machine is pulling out all stops to attack Clinton and her past performance as Secretary of State, Senator from New York and first lady. And Bill inherently falls in the Trump crosshairs. After all, when Hillary Clinton attacked Trump for his past treatment of women, Trump counterpunched by dredging up Bill’s checkered past which included lying about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, an attempted cover up which led to his impeachment in 1998.
During a May 18 interview with Sean Hannity, Trump used the word “rape” to describe Bill’s relationship with Juanita Broadderick. In 1999, Broadderick who was previously a nursing home employee, accused Clinton of raping her while he was a gubernatorial candidate in Arkansas. Trump further counterpunched by releasing a commercial which included the voices of Broadderick and Kathleen Willey, a former White House aide who also accused Clinton of sexual assault. The ad which is titled “Is Hillary really protecting women?” opens with a visual of Bill smoking a cigar which cuts to an image of Hillary laughing. The final frame includes both Clintons with the words “here we go again”. The Hillary laugh is particularly effective because it reinforces the message that Hillary was aware of these allegations of sexual assault and a participant in the efforts to silence the accusers.
In addition, putting Bill on the stump has also proven to be less effective than the campaign strategists previously anticipated. First of all, he is not drawing huge crowds. According to a recent Washington Post article , Bill rarely draws more than a few hundred people vs. the 10,000 and up that attend Bernie Sanders’s and Donald Trump’s events. He also rarely takes questions from the audience.
And his events have had missteps. During a recent event in Philadelphia, Bill lost his composure when Black Lives Matter protesters attacked his 1994 crime bill, despite the fact that he had previously commented that his bill had gone too far. Clinton later apologized for his comments. However, on the other hand, Clinton does have an ability to connect with the blue collar worker. He also is very comfortable in the African American church communities. Clinton was also willing to enter unfriendly territory including the Kentucky coal mine region in the mountain town of Prestonburg.
Clinton also has arrived at that comfortable place in life where he is comfortable with who is. “I don’t mind being booed. I’m too old to worry about it,” he told them. “All I’m telling you is, go vote for who you want to. Do whatever you want to do. But don’t pretend that we can get anything done by screaming at each other,” Clinton told the crowds.
And at the same time, it seems that the news cycle brings a new “Clinton related” scandal every day. Two weeks ago, the Clinton Foundation was in hot water again for funneling donations to a for profit energy company owned by Bill’s mistress who is known as the “energizer”.
On Wednesday May 25, the Inspector General released a report revealing that Mrs. Clinton did indeed break the State Department’s rules by setting up her own private email server. According to The Washington Times which received a copy of the report which has not been released to the public, Inspector General Steve Linick who was appointed by President Obama, said he couldn’t find any evidence that Mrs. Clinton received approval for her email arrangement. Furthermore, when lower-level staffers questioned the arrangement, they were ordered “never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again.” The report also reveals that Mrs. Clinton’s technology consultant became aware of an attempted hacking attempt in 2011 and had suspicion that another attack was underway and failed to report the incident to the department, breaking once again with department rules.
The public may just have had enough of the Clintons. Those who remember the Bill Clinton years may not want to revisit them. Those who are too young to remember the Bill Clinton years may use the resurgence of these scandals which in some cases go back more than 40 years as yet another reason not to vote for Hillary who has had difficulty engaging the younger voters. This all remains to be seen. Bottom line, getting two Clintons for the price of one was not a good deal in 1992 and is an even worse deal in 2016.