Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich greets U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio July 6, 2016.
Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

The wrong issue, at the wrong time, from the wrong campaign

Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a compelling new video yesterday featuring some of her most notable supporters: President Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. It’s nearly a three-minute clip – far too long to run as an ad on television – but the video is nevertheless effective in highlighting some of the nation’s most popular figures singing Clinton’s praises.

But this also served as a reminder of the scale of the presidential candidates’ “surrogate gap.” While Clinton has a potent combination of high-profile backers, Donald Trump’s bench is far less imposing. Indeed, one of the Republican nominee’s most high-profile backers is Rudy Giuliani, who appears to be increasingly unhinged. (A recent Politico piece asked, “Is Rudy Giuliani Losing His Mind?”)

He’s joined by Newt Gingrich, who, when he’s not talking about Alicia Machado’s weight and spreading conspiracy theories about the first debate, is also talking about Bill Clinton’s record of infidelities. BuzzFeed reported yesterday on the former Speaker marveling at Trump’s restraint.
“I’m very proud that at the very end when she attacked and went off on this whole rant about women – and you could see his face – in the Republican primary he would have just smashed her,” Gingrich said on Thursday on the Sean Hannity Radio Show.

“He thought about it, and I’m sure he said to himself, ‘a president of the United States shouldn’t attack somebody personally when their daughter is sitting in the audience,’” Gingrich said. “And he bit his tongue, and he was a gentleman, and I thought in many ways that was the most important moment of the whole evening. He proved that he had the discipline to remain as a decent guy even when she was disgusting.”
Let’s put aside the fact that Hillary Clinton wasn’t “disgusting” at the debate. Let’s also overlook the fact that Trump and his team have spent the week trying to make Bill Clinton’s ’90s-era sex scandals a key 2016 issue – including an odd quote from Trump himself just yesterday – which hardly constitutes “decency.”

Let’s instead pause to appreciate the broader circumstances: Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich linked armed this week and decided to collectively push Bill Clinton’s adultery as a campaign issue to be used against Hillary Clinton. It apparently didn’t occur to the two-timing trio that each of them are admitted adulterers with a grand total of nine marriages between them.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent had a good piece yesterday, noting the evidence that suggests this entire line of attack is almost certain to fail. Greg’s right and the prospect of a backlash is an important point.

But I’m also struck by the disconnect between the message and the messenger. Serial adulterers are aggressively pushing the argument that voters should reject Hillary Clinton because her husband was unfaithful. This campaign season has offered quite a bit of nonsense, but even by 2016 standards, this is just bonkers.