Clinton’s supporters shrug off concerns that the Trump attacks could stick.
They say most voters will see Trump as dredging up rumors as part of an anything-goes strategy to win the White House.
And they think it will backfire on the presumptive GOP nominee, especially if Clinton responds with arguments about how she wants to solve the nation’s problems.
“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.”
Trump has made it clear that nothing will be out of bounds as he runs against Clinton.
This week he posted an Instagram ad featuring audio of two women accusing Bill Clinton of sexual assault and rape. The ad then questions whether Hillary Clinton really supports women.
Separately, Trump told The Washington Post that the 1993 suicide of White House aide Vince Foster was “very fishy,” signaling a willingness to engage in conspiracy mongoring. All public evidence suggests that Foster did commit suicide.
The rehash of scandals from Bill Clinton’s administration comes as Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been dogged by controversy over her use of a private email server while secretary of State.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s legal counsel, appeared to link the two issues, telling CNN’s “New Day” that Clinton has been an “enabler” to her husband.
“What he is doing is he is exposing, not just Bill Clinton for what he was and what he had done, but it’s the same as it relates to Hillary,” Cohen added.
None of this is new.
In the Republican primary, Trump suggested Ted Cruz’s father might have had something to do with the assassination of President Kennedy.
Further back, Trump repeatedly questioned whether President Obama was really born in Hawaii.
The attacks have been winners for Trump, who coasted to the Republican nomination. He went over the top on Thursday, as several media outlets reported he had more than the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nod.
But several Senate Democrats said they do not believe the attacks will keep working.
“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.”
The Clinton campaign, so far, has not responded directly to this line of attack from Trump.
Hillary Clinton, explaining to CNN why she wouldn’t respond, said, “I know that’s exactly what he’s fishing for.”
Brian Fallon, a Clinton campaign spokesman, separately told Bloomberg TV that Trump is trying to “distract from an issue-based campaign.”
The campaign’s strategy is backed by most Democrats.
“It’s absolutely the right tactic. Keep this campaign relevant to the real life challenges of American families,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, told The Hill.
Trump’s focus on the past scandal comes as he’s similarly lashed out at the media, Democrats and, at times, members of his own party for raising questions about his past.
It’s an irony that Democrats were quick to point out.
“I think what’s more relevant is how Donald Trump’s behaved throughout his life, and there’s plenty of scandal there,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told The Hill, asked about Trump’s strategy. “We don’t want to give a reality TV star the nuclear codes, especially one that doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know.”