Most Americans don’t think that Donald Trump’s use of Bill Clinton’s history to attack Hillary Clinton is fair game, according to polling from earlier this year.
Asked during the debate about the release of a tape showing him making derogatory comments about women, Trump responded by painting Bill Clinton’s past actions as “far worse,” and criticized Hillary Clinton for her response to women who’ve accused the former president of sexual misconduct.
It’s a similar tack to the one Trump took in his apology video during the weekend, when he dismissed the shocking audio before pivoting to focus on the Clintons’ behavior more than 20 years ago.
But in an August Economist/YouGov survey, 62 percent of Americans said it was inappropriate to bring up Bill Clinton’s past personal behavior as a way to attack Hillary Clinton, although just 35 percent of Trump’s supporters were similarly reticent. (An even broader share of Americans ― 77 percent ― said it was inappropriate to attack Trump by publishing nude photos of his wife Melania.)
About a third of likely voters said it bothers them a lot that Hillary Clinton has been “accused of working to undermine the reputations of women who were linked to Bill Clinton’s infidelity,” according to a June Bloomberg poll, while 22 percent said it bothers them a little, and 42 percent not at all.
Other polling from past years has also suggested that Bill Clinton’s past generally isn’t seen as a reflection on his wife. A CNN/ORC survey from last year found that a 54 percent majority of Americans said Hillary Clinton was “not like her husband at all.” In a 2006 ABC/Washington Post survey, Americans said by a 16-point margin that Hillary Clinton’s handling of the Monica Lewinsky affairs made them respect her more, rather than less.
Bill Clinton himself also remains popular in his own right. Fifty percent of Americans have a favorable view of him, according to the latest Economist/YouGov survey, compared to 44 percent and 34 percent for Hillary Clinton and Trump, respectively. In an August Quinnipiac survey, 47 percent of Americans said they believed Bill Clinton would have a positive impact on Hillary Clinton’s presidency, while only 23 percent said he would have a negative impact.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.