Donald Trump is once again raising former President Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities, a preview of how the billionaire businessman is likely to respond to general-election attacks from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and her allies about his treatment of women.
Speaking at a rally Saturday in Spokane, Washington, Trump repeatedly assailed the woman he’s dubbed “Crooked Hillary” while hardly sparing former Republicans rivals repulsed by his chokehold on their party’s presidential nomination.
“She’s married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics,” Trump said of Clinton as he addressed supporters at the Spokane Convention Center just days after becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.
Trump appeared to be responding to news that Priorities USA, the lead super PAC backing Clinton, has already reserved $91 million in television advertising that will start next month. Much of the negative advertising against Trump is expected to focus on belittling statements he’s made about women in the past.
But Trump declared Saturday, “Two can play that game.”
“Look, folks, here’s the story: There is nobody that was worse — nobody — than Bill Clinton with women,” he said, adding that the candidate herself hurt many of the women that “he abused.”
“Hillary was an enabler and she treated these women horribly. Just remember this,” he said. “And some of these women were destroyed, not by him, but by the way that Hillary Clinton treated them after everything went down,”
Deriding a culture of political correctness in which, he says, men are “petrified to speak to women anymore,” Trump also defended himself as a great supporter of women and sought to downplay past comments he’s made about women in venues like the Howard Stern radio show in the days before he was a politician. He said some were made in the name of entertainment, while others, like his criticism of actress and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, were warranted.
“Who the hell wouldn’t speak badly about Rosie O’Donnell? She’s terrible,” he said.
The remarks were a continuation of attacks that Trump rolled out on Friday evening in Oregon. That night he also tore into Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and favorite of the left whom some would like to see as Clinton’s running mate, repeatedly calling her a “goofus.”
Warren had insulted Trump earlier on Twitter, calling him “a bully who has a single play in his playbook.”
Bashing Democrats is to be expected. Trump’s problems with his own party are, like so much in his nontraditional campaign, untried ground.
The nominee-to-be has grudgingly agreed to meet next week with House Speaker Paul Ryan, the nation’s highest-ranking Republican. Ryan’s statement on Thursday that he was not ready to embrace Trump’s nomination set off the fireworks. Trump said he had “no idea” if he and Ryan would patch things up.
Trump said in an interview that will air Sunday on “Meet the Press” Sunday that he and Ryan had had “a very encouraging” phone conversation three weeks ago and that he’d been “blindsided a little bit” by Ryan’s comments. Still, Trump said he “would imagine things would be OK” with the speaker.
“He wants to meet, we’re going to see what happens,” he said at the Spokane rally, adding that he believes Ryan regrets the decision.
“I would bet if he had that decision to do again, he would have done it the simple way: I endorse Trump,” he said.
Ryan said his meeting with Trump would occur next Thursday and that Trump also would meet with other House GOP leaders. Discussions will center on “the kind of Republican principles and ideas that can win the support of the American people this November,” Ryan said.
He has shrugged off the high-profile Republicans who have stated they won’t vote for him, among them former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., both one-time rivals for the nomination he has all but won.
In Spokane, Trump denounced Graham as “a total dope” as he argued that such naysayers don’t really matter in the context of all the votes he garnered in primary elections. He also criticized Bush and Graham as not “honorable” for breaking their pledge to support the party’s nominee.