Donald Trump was standing before a raucous Oregon crowd in May when he made the decision to open up a new line of attack against Hillary Clinton.
She was a “total enabler” of Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior, the brash billionaire declared.
Trump accused the now Democratic presidential nominee of silencing her husband’s accusers. She would “go after” them, he argued.
“Some of these women were destroyed not by him, but by the way that Hillary Clinton treated them after everything went down,” Trump said.
For months, Trump and his surrogates repeated similar charges. Trump’s campaign even signaled it would go to never-before-seen lengths this week, hinting at plans to turn Bill Clinton “into Bill Cosby.” Yet those plans seemed to fall apart when multiple women came forward to accuse Trump of unwanted sexual advances.
In response to the allegations against him, Trump toed the very same line for which he raked Hillary Clinton over the coals: He attacked his accusers and tried to silence their stories.
Erin Gloria Ryan, a senior editor at The Daily Beast who covers women’s issues, told Business Insider that it was obvious “the Trump campaign wants to have its cake and eat it too.”
“You don’t get to say women should always be believed if this powerful man says they’re trustworthy,” she said. “That’s the least feminist thing I’ve ever heard, and I listen to tons of rap music.”
Others were also fed up with the political hypocrisy.
Dana Perino, a Fox News host and White House press secretary to President George W. Bush, wrote on Twitter that the recent rhetoric reminded her of why she “wanted to quit the hill in ’98.”
“Blaming women is not OK,” Perino said in her tweet. “No matter whose side starts it.”
- REUTERS/Mike Segar
But as the accusations against Trump grew louder as the week progressed, that’s exactly what the Republican presidential nominee did. At a Friday rally, he went off the rails, viciously calling one accuser a “horrible woman” and another a “liar.”
“For God’s sake, he pretty much flat out said that the People magazine writer accusing him of assault was not attractive enough to assault,” said Ted Newton, former communications adviser to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “That’s indefensible.”
Newton told Business Insider the recent episode spoke “to a broader problem” of Trump.
“If you look at the case we wanted to prosecute, for a lack of a better term, Hillary Clinton for – if you want to talk about the Clinton sex scandals, well, it turns out Donald Trump has his as well. And if you want to focus on the Clintons having a shady charity, well, Donald Trump has his own shady charity.
“At every turn, all the things you want to use against Hillary Clinton, Trump has all the same problems,” he said.
A representative from the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but by Friday evening, the campaign showed no signs of backing down from its two-faced strategy.
“Donald Trump projects his worst characteristics on his opponents to defuse his glaring flaws,” said Rory Cooper, a Republican strategist who served as communications director for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“Of course he’s going to do that when it comes to his misogyny as well.”