The Monica Lewinsky scandal shouldn’t be used in Republicans’ case against Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential bid, Mitt Romney said Sunday.
The last Republican presidential nominee cautioned whoever would be the next GOP standard-bearer to steer away from attacks against Bill Clinton, whom Romney said had "breached his responsibility" and "embarrassed" the nation as president by engaging in an extra-marital affair in office.
But he added, "I don't think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president."
"She has her own record and her own vision," Romney said on "Meet the Press" Sunday.
Romney's warning comes amid a resurrected interest by conservatives in the foibles of the Clinton White House as interest builds in Hillary Clinton's possible second bid for the presidency in 2016.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, widely considered to have designs on the Republican presidential nod in 2016, has spearheaded that charge. Paul has repeatedly called Bill Clinton a "sexual predator" for his acknowledged relationship with Monica Lewinsky, then a young intern in the White House during Clinton's presidency. Paul has called for Democrats to return money raised by Clinton, and has brought up the issue as a way of parrying Democrats' accusations of the GOP perpetrating a "War on Women."
Recent documents unearthed from the notes of a Clinton confidant, Diane Blair (who passed away in 2000), added kindling to that fire by revealing the former first lady's candid views of Lewinsky, and the political ramifications of the scandal on her husband's presidency.
Romney said that it wasn't Mrs. Clinton's duty to explain the actions of her husband; Republicans, he counseled, would be better served to focus on her words and actions as a senator, secretary of state and now, private citizen.
"I think Hillary Clinton if she becomes the nominee will have plenty to discuss about her own record," he said. "I don't imagine that Bill Clinton will be a big part of it."
Republicans have already made those efforts, too, in hopes of softening up Clinton in advance of 2016. Clinton enjoys the unusual position of having a Democratic Party virtually united in its desire to see her run — so much so that super PACs and associates of the Clinton have already begun to organize the underpinnings of a presidential campaign.
Romney again declaimed interest, though, in becoming the Republican to prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Some GOP donors have quietly urged the 2012 nominee and 2008 candidate to again seek the Republican nomination, but Romney once again ruled it out. "I'm not running for president," he said. "I think by and large people who lose a presidential race, well, they step aside."
First published February 16 2014, 7:14 AM