Perhaps this was inevitable. As Donald Trump began to raise the specter of former President Bill Clinton’s alleged inappropriate behavior with women over the years it was easy to see that a parallel could be drawn to comedian Bill Cosby, who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct spanning multiple decades, allegations he has consistently denied, and who is back in the headlines after being criminally charged for the first time in connection to one his accusers.
Trump had relentlessly hammered the Clintons on a perceived strength – their record on women’s issues – with a particular emphasis on the former president’s past alleged infidelities. He began to conflate the allegations against Cosby with Clinton on Tuesday, telling a Boston radio host that it would be “very interesting” to ask the husband of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton what the difference is between him and the embattled comedian. ”Certainly he has a lot of very strong charges against him, and it’s pretty – pretty bad stuff,” Trump added in reference to the ex-president, his former golfing buddy and wedding guest.
On Thursday, Trump pushed the envelope even further, including an image of Cosby at a Buffalo campaign event for Hillary Clinton when she was running for U.S. Senate out of New York at the end of an Instagram video. The video also included pictures of President Clinton with Monica Lewinsky and a nod to the Anthony Weiner sexting scandals (his wife Huma Abedin is a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton) under audio from a pro-women’s rights speech the 2016 Democratic candidate once gave. “Hillary and her friends!” Trump tweeted while sharing the link.
When asked about Trump’s recent broadsides against him on Thursday at a campaign even in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bill Clinton told NBC News, “I don’t have a response. If he wins the Republican nomination, we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it if Hillary wins.”
The GOP front-runner’s new aggressive tactic has supporters on the right crowing about how the Cosby story is perfect fodder to make the Clinton campaign squirm. Meanwhile, more mainstream pundits have suggested that Trump’s pivot to trashing the Clintons has proven to be surprisingly effective. ”It’s hard to ‘go too far’ in those attacks – at least in the eyes of GOP voters,” wrote Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. “Lots and lots of Republicans believe that the Clintons have never truly been called out for how they acted in public office, they have never been properly shamed for their behavior.”
The real estate mogul has demonstrated a unique ability to drive the news cycle this election season. Trump’s decision to raise concerns over Sen. Ted Cruz’s birthplace and eligibility for the presidency single-handedly made them a topic du jour on the campaign trail and now, by directing linking both Bill and Hillary Clinton to the most infamous accused sexual predator in America, they will likely have to endure an unsavory new talking point in the run-up the the first 2016 voting contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Speaking of New Hampshire, Trump’s ubiquitous media presence as of late appears to be giving him real momentum there. After recent polls suggested the race was tightening there with the likes of Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio making gains, Trump has since appeared to broaden his lead to double digits.
“The last person Hillary wants to run against is me,” Trump told reporters late last month.