Billionaire Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, bridled Monday morning after being called out on CNN for taking the low road once again with vicious attacks on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.
Just days after wrapping up the GOP nomination and vowing to begin acting more presidential, Trump used a campaign appearance in Eugene, Oregon late last week to denounce the former first lady as an “unbelievably nasty, nasty, mean enabler” who “destroyed” the lives of Monica Lewinsky and her husband’s other mistresses.
Trump, who once boasted in one of his books of his numerous conquests of married women, told the crowd in Oregon Friday evening that "nobody respects women more than me," according to an account by The Hill. But in contrast to him, he said, "nobody in this country, and maybe in the history of the country politically, was worse than Bill Clinton with women."
This wasn’t the first time Trump followed this line of attack against the Clintons in trying to counteract criticism that he has alienated female voters with his crude attacks on prominent women, including Megyn Kelly of Fox News, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and others. Trump believes he can shut up the Clinton any time she plays the “woman card” by dredging up Bill Clinton’s misdeeds in the White House. But it was probably one of the nastiest salvos against the Clintons and a foretaste of the quality of mudslinging we can expect from him as the general election campaign heats up.
"She's been the total enabler,” Trump said of Hillary Clinton. “She would go after these women and destroy their lives. She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful."
But Trump has always been better at dishing it out than taking it. Trump has always described himself as a “counter-puncher,” never going after an opponent in a nasty manner unless provoked. But that simply is not true, as many of his former rivals, including Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Fiorina and others can attest to. And Trump may encounter a lot more pushback from Clinton and the media if he persists in waging bombastic personal attacks against her and her husband.
CNN host Chris Cuomo wasted no time this morning during Trump’s call-in interview in grilling him about his attacks on Hillary Clinton as an “enabler” or her husband’s sexual indiscretions. Cuomo cited a panel of independent voters who he said disapprove of Trump’s acid rhetoric. “Most of them don’t like it,” Cuomo said. “They see it as a distraction, they see it as hypocritical coming from you, and mostly they see it as potential proof that you may have no real ideas to offer as president. What is your thinking on the line of attack?”
Trump genuinely sounded wounded and outraged in his response. "Well this is a nice way to start off the interview," Trump said. "First of all, you should congratulate me for having won the race. I thought there at least would be a small congratulations. But I'm not surprised with CNN."
When Cuomo pointed out that he had congratulated Trump, the real estate mogul replied, "We haven't spoken. Last week, toward the end, I was essentially the nominee of the party and you start off with this question, which is not surprising because I understand CNN perhaps better than you do."
Trump went on to deny that his opening attack in the general election campaign targeted Bill Clinton's infidelity, pointing to his remarks on trade, the military and illegal immigration.