Trump vs. Clinton: The Democrats’ Juanita Broaddrick Conundrum

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(Photo: iStockPhoto; Wikimedia Commons; Taylor Le/Pacific Standard)

“There’s never been anybody in the history of politics that’s been this abusive to women.” — Donald J. Trump on William Jefferson Clinton, 9:18 p.m. EST, October 9th, 2016

Donald Trump has a deficit among women voters. His unfavorability ratings have hovered around seven in 10 since the spring, and in a new ABC News and SSRS “rapid response” survey that measures voters’ response to Friday’s leak of Trump talking about grabbing women’s genitals, 62 percent of female respondents said they were less likely to vote for Trump as a result:

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(Chart: SSRS Public Opinion Polling)

Trump’s strategy at this debate is to go nuclear, by hitting Hillary Clinton with her husband’s rich and well-documented past of womanizing. In the audience tonight are Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick, three women who have all accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or, in Broaddrick’s case, rape.

Democrats have a problem here. Most have never reprimanded Clinton for the Broaddrick accusations, but you can be damn sure they would have done so if the alleged rapist were a Republican. (Katie J.M. Baker published a sensitive profile of Broaddrick in BuzzFeed this August.)

That’s a real hypocrisy, but Trump’s instincts have already torpedoed his chance to capitalize on it. Parading these women ahead of the debate—indeed, pulling a bait-and-switch with reporters to trick them into filming the parade—smacks of all kinds of nastiness: a flailing man using three women as props in order to humiliate a fourth.

The consensus so far is that there’s no way this helps Trump; whether it hurts Clinton is unclear.

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