Hillary Clinton on Sunday dismissed Donald Trump’s disparagement of her husband, the former president Bill Clinton, saying the personal attacks “didn’t work before, won’t work again”.
The Democratic frontrunner for president said Republicans had repeatedly tried to uncover a scandal in her family, alluding to her husband’s admitted affair and the inquiries into her handling of a personal email server and a 2012 attack in Benghazi while she was secretary of state.
“If [Trump] wants to engage in personal attacks from the past, that is his prerogative,” she said in an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation. “You know, so be it.”
Trump, who is leading Republican polls around most of the country, has responded to the former president’s presence on the campaign trail by recalling questions about him and other women. On Sunday Trump called the former president “an abuser”, during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“A woman claimed rape, and all sorts of things,” Trump said. “I mean, horrible things.”
Himself twice divorced, Trump said his own marital dramas did not compare to those of the Clinton family.
Trump said: “You know what? I wasn’t President of the United States. And I wasn’t dealing in the Oval Office, all right? A big difference. I wasn’t the president.”
Last July, Trump distanced himself from comments by his lawyer and spokesman Michael Cohen, who threatened a reporter from the Daily Beast who had resurfaced allegations from the late 1980s that Trump had raped his then wife, Ivana.
Ivana subsequently said the Daily Beast story was “entirely without merit”.
On Sunday, Clinton refused to engage. “It has been fair game going back to the Republicans for some years,” she said, of her husband’s past. “He can say whatever he wants about me. Let the voters judge that.
“I think it’s a dead end, blind alley for them. But I am not going to let him or any of the other Republicans rip away the progress that we have [made]. It has been too hard fought-for. And I am going to stand up and make it clear there is a huge difference between us.”
The former secretary of state also used the interview to draw distinctions between herself and her closest Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. She criticized the Vermont senator for voting against some gun control legislation in Congress, and in particular for voting for a law that protects gun makers from lawsuits.
“I think he has been consistently refusing to say that he would vote to repeal this absolute immunity from any kind of responsibly or liability,” she said.
Sanders has said he has reconsidered those votes and now supports stronger gun control measures .
In Iowa on Friday, the senator responded to a question about the Clinton family’s history. He rebuked Trump and the former president, but not his presidential rival.
“Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton,” Sanders told the crowd. “But what Bill Clinton did was totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable. But I am running against Hillary Clinton, not Bill Clinton.”
He added: “What we need to do as a nation, certainly something the Republicans are not doing, is focus on the bloody issues facing this country – the disappearance of the middle class income and wealth inequality.”
The former president himself, also campaigning in Iowa, said he had “no interest in getting involved” or “doing anything except working to help Hillary”.
Asked directly about the billionaire’s scorn, he said: “Donald Trump says a lot of things.”
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