Talking like a potential presidential candidate, 2012 GOP presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press” that former President Bill Clinton “embarrassed the nation.” Romney’s appearance on the Sunday morning talk shows and increased visibility in the national media suggests he’s considering another presidential run. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie became ensnared in the Bridgegate scandal Jan. 8, Romney’s profile suddenly became more visible. Like Christie, Romney’s considered a moderate, though he did his best in 2012 to sell himself as a conservative. For whatever reasons, conservatives didn’t jump on Romney’s bandwagon in 2012, handing President Barack Obama his second term. Whatever problems Romney had in 2012, things wouldn’t get easier running against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Despite the 2014 Midterm elections that could tip the balance to Republicans in the Democratically-controlled Senate, TV and Internet pundits prefer to speculate about 2016. “I think Hillary Clinton, if she becomes the nominee, will have plenty to discuss about her own record,” Romney told Gregory, hinting at problems with Benghazi, where 42-year-old Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2012. “I don’t imagine Bill Clinton is going to be a big part of it,” said Romney referring to Bill’s expected role in a future Hillary campaign. Raising the Monica Lewinsky affair appeals to conservatives that believe the ex-president’s indiscretions were far worse than anything Hillary did at the State Department. What’s significant about Romney’s reappearance is that Christie no longer looks viable plagued with scandal.
Taking shots at Bill Clinton has been a favorite pastime for GOP conservatives, obsessed with the former president’s salacious behavior. “He embarrassed the nation,” Romney said. “He breached his responsibility. I think, as an adult and as a leader in his relationship. And I think that’s very unfortunate,” sounding more like he’d like to get back in the game after his 2012 failure. When adding up all the mistakes in his 2012 campaign, none was worse than picking House Budget Director Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate. After battling Barack on the budget and the debt-ceiling, Ryan was a Tea Party favorite, bolstering Mitt’s conservatism. After stubbornly insisting on the 2012 “sequester,” that slashed a trillion dollars off the federal budget, Ryan was seen as Obama’s spoiler. When Paul talked of slashing Medicare and Social Security, Romney’s campaign headed south.
Dredging up Clinton’s past peccadillos signals Romney’s intent to get back in the game, despite his denials. Romney followed Tea Party-favorite Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kt.), ripping former president Clinton for his “predatory” affair. Any reasonable account of Monica Lewinsky showed she had more to do with the “affair” than Clinton. Paul reacted to Democrats’ claim that the GOP has a “war on women.” “The Democrats, one of their big issues is they have concocted and said Republicans are committing a war on women,” Paul told NBC’s David Gregory on “Meet the Press.” Turning tables on Democrats, Paul brought up the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. “One of the workplace laws that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office,” said Paul, swiping at Clinton. How the GOP strategy of dredging up Clinton-Lewinsky hurts Hillary is anyone’s guess.
Romney’s appearance on “Meet the Press” is no accident, while other potential GOP candidates like Paul take their shots at Hillary. Reluctant at this point to lash out at Romney, Paul won’t think twice about painting the 2016 GOP nominee as too liberal to compete effectively against Hillary should she be the Democratic nominee. Paul’s become a favorite on national TV because the liberal media like show off his radical right wing views. More than his libertarian father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who focused more on economic issues, Rand likes to blast Democrats for their loose values and fiscal extravagance. “And I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton as pass on this,” beating a dead horse on the 16-year-old Clinton-Lewinsky affair. Paul, Romney and other GOP hopefuls will need to run on more than ancient history to make it to the Oval Office.
Packed with conservative candidates, the GOP has too few moderates, like Romney and Christie, left in the party. With Christie bedeviled by the Bridgegate scandal, it opens the door for Romney to reemerge as the logical option. Dredging up the Clinton-Lewinsky affair won’t hurt Hillary, only shows Republican desperation to find any hook to curry favor with voters. Romney’s failed 2012 had more to do with Obama’s improving economy, something that should help Hillary if Wall Street continues its winning ways. Conservatives can rant about Bill Clinton’s past depravity but have no answer for why Wall Street and the overall economy have improved under Obama’s economic policies. Ripping Hillary before the Midterm elections could backfire with voters, realizing that GOP candidates have nothing to add to solving cotemporary American problems.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.