Democrats championing efforts to fight sexual misconduct as part of their 2018 election platform reportedly hope to keep one of the party’s biggest past attractions off the campaign trail — former President Bill Clinton.
Clinton’s history of misconduct allegations surfaced repeatedly during his wife’s presidential run, even as then-candidate Donald Trump faced accusations of his own. But in the #MeToo era, Bill Clinton’s conduct has come under renewed scrutiny from fellow Democrats.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told Politico that Clinton’s presence “just brings up a lot of issues that will be very tough for Democrats.”
Jayapal is a leading voice on Capitol Hill on how Washington should approach sexual harassment, following several allegations against members in recent months.
“I think we all have to be clear about what the #MeToo movement was,” she also said.
Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 on charges of lying under oath and obstruction of justice in connection with an extra-marital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Senate later acquitted him. He’s also been accused of sexual harassment and assault by several other women.
Last fall, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made the stunning comment that Clinton should have resigned over the Lewinsky scandal.
Looking ahead, Democrats want to steer clear of Clinton so they can make an uncompromised attack on President Trump, over the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
To that backdrop, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken also resigned last month after several women alleged they were groped by Franken.
Clinton off the campaign trail would be a huge change from eight years ago, when he made more than 100 appearances for Democrats during the 2010 midterms.
In his reelection campaign two years later, former President Barack Obama anointed Clinton his “explainer-in-chief,” Politico noted.
James Carville, the former Clinton strategist, told the outlet Clinton remains in demand and thinks the former president will, nevertheless, do some campaigning.
“There are people who want him, I promise you,” said Carville, while acknowledging changing times.
A Gallup poll in December had Clinton’s national approval rating at 45 percent, down 5 percentage points since the end of the 2016 campaign, and showed a 52 percent disapproval. Those were his lowest numbers recorded by Gallup since he left office in 2001.