- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2014

Seeking to dent Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential aspirations and to combat the accusation that the GOP is waging a war on women, Sen. Rand Paul is waging a war on Bubba.

The Kentucky Republican and likely 2016 presidential candidate is making a habit of ripping former President Bill Clinton, dubbing the 42nd president a “sexual predator” and suggesting that it is hypocritical of Democrats to cast the GOP as anti-women when they celebrate someone who preyed on women working under him in the workplace.

“They can’t have it both ways. And so I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I think they should give the money back,” Mr. Paul said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

“If they want to take a position on women’s rights, by all means do. But you can’t do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace.”

Mr. Clinton could be smack in the middle of the next presidential battle if Mrs. Clinton, who stepped down as secretary of state last year, decides to take another run at the nation’s top elected office.

A CNN/ORC poll released last week found that Mrs. Clinton is the early front-runner in the presidential sweepstakes and also that she holds a 57 percent to 39 percent lead in a hypothetical Election Day matchup with Mr. Paul.

The same poll found that nearly six in 10 of the women surveyed said the GOP doesn’t understand them — a demographic that helped power President Obama to a second term in 2012 and could turn out in droves in 2016 in hopes of electing Mrs. Clinton as the first female president.

That may not bode well for Republicans, who have been searching for better ways to counter attempts to portray them as anti-women.

“In 2012, the Republican response to this attack was muddled, and too often the attack went undefended altogether,” the Republican National Committee said in its post-election report. “We need to actively combat this, better prepare our surrogates, and not stand idly by while the Democrats pigeonhole us using false attacks.”

Last month, the RNC passed a resolution that said “pro-life Republicans should fight back against deceptive rhetoric, regardless of those in the Republican Party who encourage them to stay silent.”

Mr. Paul has taken a different tack, saying that Democrats can’t say they are the “great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace” if they are also going to embrace Mr. Clinton, who was sued for sexual harassment in 1994 by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones and was involved in a sex scandal with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in 1998 that almost derailed his presidency.

“For goodness sakes, he paid an $800,000 fine for sexual harassment,” Mr. Paul said on C-SPAN, alluding to the out-of-court settlement that Mr. Clinton reached with Mrs. Jones. “So he admitted to it in one court case, and really, I think, has been convicted in the public place for the other sexual harassment.”

Lilly Adams, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, pushed back on Friday by criticizing Mr. Paul’s record on women’s issues.

“If his claims of concern for women are sincere, he should start by rethinking his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, paycheck fairness and the right of women to make their own health care decisions,” Ms. Adams said.

Mike McKenna, a GOP strategist, said the DNC’s response shows that Mr. Paul’s attack worked. “People only squawk like that when you’ve hit the target,” Mr. McKenna said.

He also said that the attack could expose a chink in Mrs. Clinton’s armor by reminding voters that she enabled her husband’s “pathological behavior, routinely covering for him in public and tolerating it in private.”

“Not only does this line of discussion tend to undercut the notion that Secretary Clinton is a great advocate for the cause of women everywhere, it undercuts the notion that she is a very tough person who can be trusted to defend the interests of others,” Mr. McKenna said. “She had real trouble defending her own interests in her own marriage.”

Craig Shirley, a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian, said that Mr. Paul could be trying to shore up his support with social conservatives who are suspicious of his libertarian leanings and who are instrumental in selecting the party’s presidential nominee.

“As a tactic, I liked it because it instantly changed the subject from the puerile and idiotic ‘war on women’ to something a bit more substantive, and that is sexual harassment in the workplace and the abuse of power by a misogynistic stalker of women,” Mr. Shirley said.

But Darrell West, director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, said, “I don’t see this as a major counterbalance to Democratic charges about a GOP war on women.”

“The Democratic critique is based on policy differences,” Mr. West said. “Republicans need a substantive message that demonstrates to women what party leaders are doing to better their plight. This could involve economic measures designed to promote opportunities for women or family-related bills that provide help on education, housing or child care.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide