In a radio interview on Tuesday, US Representative Katherine Clark said she would “politely decline” any offer of campaign help from former President Bill Clinton. Speaking to WGBH in Boston, the Massachusetts 5th District incumbent explained that Clinton’s behavior in office did not align with her view of Democratic party values.
Katherine Clark: Clinton has been “slow to apologize”
The statement by Clark reflected a refinement of a previous statement she made earlier this month on the local political television show Greater Boston. When asked about a hypothetical offer of help from the 43rd President she then said, “You know, I’d have to think about it.”
The question about Presidential help had been prompted by an ill-judged book publicity tour by Clinton. Most problematic was an extremely awkward interview on the Today Show, broadcast on June 4th. Speaking to host Craig Melvin, Clinton refused to consider directly apologizing to his former intern Monica Lewinsky.
“I have never talked to her, but I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry,” he said. “That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Following that broadcast there was much speculation that candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections would distance themselves from the former President, who for decades has been a top campaigning and fundraising asset for Democrats everywhere.
Now Katherine Clark appears to be saying publicly what many Democrats have been saying privately for some time: Bill Clinton is politically radioactive.
Speaking to WGBH radio she said, “I have thought about it, and I think the #MeToo movement is long overdue. I think it is long time that men like Bill Clinton come to a better understanding of the implications of their actions.”
“Bill Clinton did many good things in light of his presidency, but now in light of the #MeToo movement, I think we all have to look back and hold him accountable as well.
“I think he has been slow to apologize,” she continued, “and like so many men of considerable power, just really doesn’t understand the ramifications of his actions.”
“[If asked], I would politely decline. It’s not because I don’t think he did some good things in his presidency, and continues to, but I think that this issue in this time, we’d need to hear more of an apology.”
No more bones for the “Big Dog?”
Before Katherine Clark’s statement on Tuesday, Democrats have been cagey about prospects of support from Bill Clinton on the campaign trail.
Florida Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel had previously received help from Clinton with enthusiasm, including inviting him to headline a 2012 fundraiser in West Palm Beach. In a statement given to the Palm Beach Post on June 8th, however, she was keen to distance herself from him.
“My focus remains on supporting inspired women who are marching in the streets, helping candidates with like-minded values, and running for office,” she said. “It will be up to each candidate to decide whether they need the active support of a particular political or civic leader.”
Another Florida Democrat with deep ties to Clinton may be put in an awkward position by the issue. Clinton-era HHS Secretary and former Clinton Foundation Chairman Donna Shalala has decided to run for Congress in Florida’s 27th district. She faces a tough primary against a range of other Democratic hopefuls, including Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez. Shalala received the endorsement of Hillary Clinton on Monday, but so far no sign of support from the “Big Dog” himself.
And she is probably thankful for that.