Monica Lewinsky tends to avoid politics these days, after becoming instantly famous nearly 20 years ago as the White House intern who had an affair with President Bill Clinton.
Unfortunately for Lewinsky, the 2016 presidential race keeps getting stuck in the past.
In the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Republican hinted at the Clintons’ marital problems and brought up Bill Clinton’s infidelities directly soon after. For now, Trump says he won’t discuss the subject at the debate on Sunday. But he has been known to change his mind.
“Let’s see what happens,” Trump said at a town-hall event Thursday night in New Hampshire, referring to whether he will hold off on the topic. “I think we’re all better off if we can do that because it is about issues, it is about policies.”
Hillary Clinton may not want to relive this period. But Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said any attack by Trump on the topic would backfire, showing Trump to be “combustible and erratic.” Some political analysts said Trump risks showing Clinton in a sympathetic light as the wronged wife — hardly helpful as he struggles to draw support from women. Yet it’s a fraught subject for both of them. Bill Clinton aides moved aggressively to discredit women who alleged sexual contact with him, while Hillary Clinton stood by her husband publicly in much of that era and cast his accusers as part of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Lewinsky declined to be interviewed for this story. After staying out of the public eye for many years, she recently re-emerged as an anti-bullying advocate.
“I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past,” Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair.
In June of that year, Hillary Clinton told ABC’s “Nightline” that she wishes Lewinsky well, adding: “I hope that she is able to think about her future and construct a life that she finds meaning and satisfaction in.”