So I can just imagine Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inner voice giving him advice in his usual fact-free zone — the same voice that told him he “watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down” — though we now know there was no such scene.
“I have a great idea,” the same voice must have told him. “You mocked Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for menstruation, Republican candidate Carly Fiorina for her face, Hillary Clinton for taking too long to go to the restroom, your poll numbers among most women are down and heading even further down — so now, you need to launch personal attacks on President Bill Clinton as a way of convincing women voters not to vote for his wife, Hillary Clinton.”
Here are four facts The Donald seems to have ignored:
Fact No. 1: The Clinton two-term presidency was highly regarded by nearly two—thirds of all Americans on his last day in office.
During Clinton’s eight years in office, using an approach contributed to and shared by his partner and wife, 23 million new jobs were created, a substantial inherited budget deficit became a substantial budget surplus (with bipartisan support from GOP congressional leaders), and we had peace and prosperity.
What about that record does Trump believe the American people don’t like today?
Does Trump forget that all his personal attacks on Bill Clinton were litigated and re-litigated in the 1990s? And what was the final verdict? On his last day in office, Clinton’s job approval rating was 65 percent — the highest such rating for a second-term president in the history of polling.
Lest we forget what preceded that unprecedented positive verdict: seven years of media-hyped investigations by 20 Republican congressional committees and an independent counsel, costing taxpayers over $70 million. (In the ’90s, Trump himself dismissed the seriousness of these attacks).
The verdict, when all was said and done?
After the House of Representatives voted for impeachment on virtually a strictly partisan, party-line vote, the U.S. Senate — with 55 Republicans voting — refused to support by a majority vote even one of the four House charges.
Fact No. 2: Bill Clinton is currently one of the most popular individuals in public life in the United States. See, for example, one of the latest 2015 year-end polls as to his continuing popularity among a wide spectrum of voters. His popularity has been enhanced by his post-presidency good works through his foundation in this country and around the globe.
Fact No. 3: Polls show that such personal attacks on her husband have historically helped Hillary Clinton’s popularity among most Americans, including Republicans and conservatives.
Fact No. 4: One-half of American voters, according to the latest year-end Quinnipiac University poll completed on Dec. 22, 2015, say that they would be “embarrassed to have Trump as president.” (The poll had a margin of error under 3 percent). That’s right: One-halfof all voters sampled from all parties.
In the same poll, Hillary Clinton defeats Trump 47 percent to 40 percent (beyond the margin of error). If translated into a final general election vote, this means Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide.
Of course, all general election polls at this stage are virtually meaningless — except that Trump keeps falsely touting them as showing he is ahead of Hillary Clinton.
So, my message to The Donald: Thank you for your great idea. Please keep up your personal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton.
And good luck in your effort to obtain the GOP presidential nomination. I sure hope you are successful: May the Force be with you.
Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and Executive Vice President of the strategic communications firm, LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).