In his escalating attacks on Hillary Clinton this month, Donald Trump has made one thing clear: He's not afraid to go, well, anywhere.
He has attacked Clinton for lacking his level of "strength" and "stamina," while describing her as exhausted and accusing her of sleeping too much. He cracked jokes about her late return from a bathroom break during the last Democratic debate. He has brushed off accusations from Clinton supporters of being sexist in his criticism, instead accusing Clinton of "playing the women's card." And now Trump is going after Bill Clinton, who plans to soon campaign in Iowa on his wife's behalf.
"If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women's card on me, she's wrong!" Trump tweeted on Monday morning.
Over the past few weeks, Clinton has become Trump's No. 1 target on the campaign trail -- much to the delight of many of Trump's supporters, who often save their loudest rally boos for the Democratic front-runner and fill Trump's Twitter timeline with anti-Clinton thoughts. Monday's tweet was one in a series of fresh attacks that Trump fired off in the days before and after Christmas. During a rally in Michigan on the Monday before Christmas, Trump's only public event last week, he used the word "disgusting" in a reference to the reason it took Clinton so long to return to the debate stage and then said she was "schlonged" by Barack Obama during the 2008 primary, using a vulgar Yiddish term for penis that he insists simply means "beaten badly."
Senior Clinton campaign aide Christina Reynolds responded angrily in a statement late Monday.
“Though Donald Trump has pushed around nearly all of his fellow Republicans, Hillary Clinton won't be bullied or distracted by attacks he throws at her and former president Clinton,” Reynolds said. “But when his insults are directed at women, immigrants, Asian-Americans, Muslims, the disabled, or hard working Americans looking to raise their wages, Hillary Clinton will stand up to him, as she has from the beginning.”
“Donald Trump's words are demeaning, his policies are just as destructive,” Reynolds continued. “Hillary Clinton will challenge Donald Trump and all the other Republicans who will rip away the progress we've made.”
In an interview with the Des Moines Register last week, Clinton said was not surprised by the billionaire's swipes, and would not directly respond to him. She criticized Trump for "the inflammatory rhetoric that he is using to divide people, and his going after groups of people with hateful, incendiary rhetoric.”
"It’s not the first time he’s demonstrated a penchant for sexism," Clinton told the Register on Tuesday. "Again, I’m not sure anybody’s surprised that he keeps pushing the envelope.”
Trump responded to that comment on Twitter the following day. "Hillary, when you complain about 'a penchant for sexism,' who are you referring to. I have great respect for women. BE CAREFUL!" he wrote on Twitter. Trump also accused Clinton of staging an exchange she had with a young girl at a town hall in Iowa who asked the Democratic front-runner about bullying. "The Hillary Clinton staged event yesterday was pathetic. Be careful Hillary as you play the war on women or women being degraded card."
On Christmas Eve the next day, Trump tweeted: "Next year will be an interesting one. I look forward to running against Hillary Clinton, a totally flawed candidate, and beating her soundly."
After a break Christmas Day, Trump resumed on Dec. 26. "I will do far more for women than Hillary, and I will keep our country safe, something which she will not be able to do-no strength/stamina!" he tweeted. And then he began to go after Bill Clinton, writing: "Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out to campaign but HE'S DEMONSTRATED A PENCHANT FOR SEXISM, so inappropriate!"
In an interview with the Fox News Channel on Sunday, Trump defended his latest Clinton attacks. Hillary Clinton needs to be careful in throwing around accusations of sexism, he said -- and should expect to hear more of Trump's thoughts on her husband.
"I think he is fair game because his presidency was really considered to be very troubled, to put it mildly, because of all of the things that's she talking to me about," Trump said. "She's got to be careful. You know, it's got to be fair. And we all have to fight fairly, and we have to fight, you know, for the good of the country, for the good of the people, for the good of everybody. But we have to fight fairly, and she's playing the woman's card, and it's like: 'Give me a break.'"
Anne Gearan contributed to this report.