EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

May 11, 2014

Clinton moves past as future looms

WASHINGTON (AP) — For Hillary Rodham Clinton, the last few months might be comparable to a spring cleaning: An airing of her political past before she sets the course for her much speculated-about future.

As the former secretary of state and first lady mulls a presidential campaign in 2016, reminders of the tumultuous periods of her career have re-emerged in recent weeks: her husband’s affair in the White House with Monica Lewinsky, her ill-fated attempt to overhaul the health care system and the deadly 2012 attack at a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Bill Clinton said presidential campaigns always need to be about the future, but that gets complicated if Hillary Clinton runs again after losing out to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

Republicans might press the argument that at a time when many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s direction, she represents a bygone era marked by political soap operas.

Yet many Democrats say reminders of the 1990s — remember the booming economy? — could help Clinton, and that rehashing her past more than two years before the next presidential election could dispense with a variety of distractions.

If a Republican challenger or a Democratic primary opponent invoked Lewinsky, Whitewater, cattle futures or other retro story lines in 2016, Clinton’s team could try to dismiss it all as old news.

“For the majority of people, this is an eye roll,” contended Maria Cardona, a former Clinton campaign adviser.

Vanity Fair magazine published a first-person account this past week from Lewinsky in which she said Bill Clinton “took advantage” of her, but that their affair was consensual.

Lewinsky cited recently released papers from a longtime Hillary Clinton friend, Diane Blair, in which the former first lady called the once White House intern a “narcissistic loony toon.” Lewinsky wrote that she found Hillary Clinton’s “impulse to blame the Woman — not only me, but herself, troubling.”

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