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Editorial: ‘Back to the Future’ politics

Racing ahead, way ahead, is the way politics operates these days. People are beginning to make noise about potential presidential candidacies — with the nation still roughly nine months away from the congressional midterm elections.

The reason for this, one might argue, is that it’s all about the future — of the country, its direction and most certainly the person sitting in the White House.

But if that’s the case, why are a number of potential Republican candidates casting their eyes back in history in their efforts to sway early public opinion?

Perhaps it’s because their most likely future adversary bears the last name “Clinton.”

So we see Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky go on “Meet the Press,” to remind us that Bill Clinton engaged in what he called “predatory behavior” with Monica Lewinski.

And Mitt Romney, who despite his protestations to the contrary, might be persuaded to put his hat into the GOP ring again, took a slightly more measured approach. “I think (Hillary Clinton’s) record is what will be judged upon, and not the record of her husband. ... On the other hand, he embarrassed the nation, he breached his responsibility, I think, as an adult and as a leader in this relationship, and I think that’s unfortunate. But I don’t think that’s Hillary Clinton’s to explain.”

He’s right. Voters can decide what kind of candidate Hillary Clinton will be based upon her own long record of service, as a U.S. senator from New York and as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. But we believe that trying to tar her potential candidacy with her husband’s extra-marital affair, or affairs, won’t be a winner with the electorate, except for those hard-core Clinton haters who are still out there.

After all, Hillary was a victim, more sinned against than sinning.

So is that the best that Paul, Romney or any other potential Republican candidate can come up with — reminding us of Bill Clinton’s flaws?

That’s not forward thinking, but it’s obviously in the current GOP playbook.

And there’s also another aspect of all of this that ought to give these and other Republican hopefuls pause. Bill Clinton remains very popular with many Americans. During the whole attempt to get him out of office, his job approval ratings continued to climb. And since becoming an ex-president he has enjoyed plenty of support and can still draw enormous crowds for Democratic candidates.

We just don’t see this as winning strategy for anyone in 2016. Forget taking this “Back to the Future” approach. It won’t get good reviews now that we are farther down the road.

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