The XX Factor

In Donald Trump’s New Attack Video, Bill Clinton Sucks a Cigar and Women Accuse Him of Rape

Then-president Bill Clinton on a golf course in Martha’s Vineyard in August 1999.

John Mottern/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump continued his attack on Hillary Clinton via Bill Clinton on Monday with a brief Instagram video featuring the voices of women who’ve accused the latter of rape and sexual assault.

One, Juanita Broaddrick, who alleged in 1999 that Bill raped her in 1978, speaks through tears in a clip from a 1999 NBC interview. “No woman should be subjected to it—it was an assault,” recounts Kathleen Willey, who alleged in 1998 that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993, in a soundbite from a 2007 statement.

The video centers on an old photo of Bill sucking on a cigar, an image reminiscent of one of the most visceral scenes from Kenneth Starr’s report of the former president’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. It ends with a photo of the Clintons and the text “Here we go again?” overlaid with audio of Clinton’s laugh, a favorite target of her detractors that Trump has leveraged in at least two previous ads.

The Trump campaign’s caption—“Is Hillary really protecting women?”—gets at the gist of its strategy going into the general election. If he wants to win against the first viable female presidential candidate, Trump must give female voters a reason to support him over her, but his documented record of rampant misogyny has already given Clinton a head start. 

Lucky for Trump, Clinton has inextricably aligned herself with another famous alleged misogynist, Bill, whose lecherous past (in addition to his racist babblings) could prove to be a weak spot for the Clinton campaign. Monday’s video comes on the heels of a new story alleging that Hillary Clinton helped cover up rapes Bill committed, which the National Enquirer, Trump’s favored news outlet and committed backer, published late last week. Earlier this month, Trump accused Hillary of attacking the women Bill allegedly harassed or slept with:

Nobody in this country was worse than Bill Clinton with women. He was a disaster. He was disaster. … [Hillary] was a total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives. I mean have you ever read what Hillary Clinton did to the women that Bill Clinton had affairs with? And they’re going after me with women? Give me a break, folks. Give me a break. Just remember this: She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.

On Twitter, too, Trump has accused Bill of “women abuse,” calling into question the validity of Clinton’s “women’s card” for her association with an alleged perpetrator of sexual assault. That Trump would try to to undermine Hillary Clinton’s support among women voters by painting her as an enabler of misogyny when Trump himself has sexually objectified his 1-year-old daughter, repeatedly harassed women, and allegedly raped his wife is particularly phony, even for him.

It’s not clear whether this strategy will work for Trump, anyway. Voters under 35, who make up nearly a third of the electorate, are either too young to care about Bill’s famous infidelities or too liberal to swing for Trump. Then again, harping on Bill’s sexual misdoings could be an effective means of galvanizing conservative voters behind an unlikely, unlovable candidate. The average Republican voter is far past old enough to remember the hubbub over Bill’s irresponsible, pervy behavior in the White House and subsequent lies about it; it’s one of the reasons they hate the Clintons in the first place. Since a lack of excitement among Republicans is one of Trump’s biggest weaknesses right now, Bill’s history could be exactly the motivator Trump needs.