Donald Trump announced Monday at the first presidential debate that he would not be "extremely rough" to Hillary Clinton and her family. He explained later that he meant he wouldn't bring up examples of former president Bill Clinton's infidelity.
Trump's surrogates have no problem doing it for him.
Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s closest advisers, said Hillary Clinton is “too stupid” to be president because she appeared to not know her husband was unfaithful to her. David Bossie, Trump's deputy campaign manager, accused Clinton of being an "enabler." And Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) questioned Hillary Clinton's “treatment of women" involved with her husband. Trump himself said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News that he might bring the issue up himself, as he has done before, if Clinton again cites his comments about women.
Meanwhile, Trump's son Eric Trump said Tuesday that it "took a lot of courage in so many regards" for his dad to "restrain himself" and not "take the bait" when Clinton accused him of "sexism" in the final minutes of the debate.
It’s unclear how embarrassing the Clintons on this issue helps Trump win new support from voters — especially from white women with college degrees, who have often been the most hesitant to back him. Plus, the topic is a reminder of Trump’s own behavior during his three marriages, the first of which ended following a high-profile affair that was closely followed by the tabloids.
Eric Trump repeatedly said that he was proud of his father for not directly bringing up Bill Clinton's affairs and that he will always remember that moment, a sentiment echoed by a number of other surrogates this week.
"He said it when he came off the debate stage, ‘I wasn’t gonna respond to that question because I saw Chelsea in the front row, and I just wasn’t gonna go there out of respect for her,’” Eric Trump said Tuesday during an interview on 1040 WHO Iowa radio. “ ... He would’ve probably hurt a family if he did. I don’t know, I think that took a lot of courage in so many regards and I think he really answered that well and took the high ground and kept the high road.”
Chelsea Clinton responded to Donald Trump's comments in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine that was published Wednesday.
"Well, my reaction to that is just what my reaction has been kind of every time Trump has gone after my mom or my family, which is that it’s a distraction from his inability to talk about what’s actually at stake in this election," Clinton said. " ... And candidly, I don’t remember a time in my life when my parents and my family weren’t being attacked, and so it just sort of seems to be in that tradition, unfortunately."
Giuliani said in a brief interview Monday night with Elite Daily, which focuses on millennials, that Clinton not only stood by her husband during the sex scandal involving Monica Lewinsky but she also criticized the younger woman.
"And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president," Giuliani said, according to a video posted online.
Lewinsky has never publicly accused Bill Clinton of violating her, as Giuliani claimed.
Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general, said Wednesday on MSNBC that if Clinton wants to revisit comments Trump made in the 1990s, then it's fair to revisit things that Clinton said about fellow women — including once reportedly calling Lewinsky a “narcissistic loony toon." That label came from papers donated to the University of Arkansas Special Collections library by Diane Blair, a political-science professor and close friend to Clinton.
Rutledge repeatedly dodged questions about comments Trump has made about a Miss Universe winner by bringing up scandals involving Bill Clinton and "Hillary Clinton's treatment of women."
"There were so many, unfortunately, that we can't recall all of President Clinton's indiscretions," Rutledge said at one point.
Bossie, Trump's deputy campaign manager, also tied Hillary Clinton to her husband's high-profile affairs on Fox News on Wednesday.
“I think that if you look at Hillary Clinton’s background and if you look at her being an enabler, really, in the ’90s and really attacking these women, it goes against everything that she now tries to spout as a candidate for president,” Bossie said.