The older brother of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders attacked Bill Clinton in an interview Friday, saying the media is too busy deciding whether the former president of the United States is a “terrible rapist” or a “nice rapist” to understand what a terrible president he was. The remarks come just one day before the Nevada Democratic caucuses where Sanders will take on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a race that is expected to be very close.
“Bill Clinton has leapt in to try and make it personal with Bernard,” Larry Sanders told The Daily Beast in an interview published Friday. “He was a dreadful president — in general — for poor people.”
The elder Sanders said instead of talking about the former president’s record, the media debates: “Is Bill really such a terrible rapist — or is he a nice rapist?”
He also said his brother, who describes himself as a Democratic socialist and has been an independent in Congress for years, is “very socialist” in his view of “class warfare.” Larry Sanders added Clinton is responsible for many of America’s current problems and said he believes people put too much blame on George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, the two presidents who served on either side of Clinton.
“The imprisonment stuff stems back to him: the breaking up of the welfare system stems back to him, which caused a lot of misery, the trade deals,” Sanders said, mentioning the North American Free Trade Agreement. “A lot of bad key policies didn’t come in under the Bushes.”
Bill Clinton’s sexual history has seen a resurgence in attention this election cycle, thanks in part to Donald Trump, who has called Hillary Clinton an “enabler” for her husband’s infidelity and accused her of being hypocritical for “playing the women’s card” while campaigning with her husband.
If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women's card on me, she's wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2015
Bernie Sanders, for his part, has tried to stay out of the controversy by saying questions about the former president’s sex life should not be used against his wife. Republicans have brought up the issue, as well, some even comparing Clinton to comedian Bill Cosby, who has been accused by more than 50 women of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the course of his career. Cosby was recently charged in one of those cases.
Unlike Cosby, Bill Clinton has never been charged with a sex crime, and most of his public sexual history revolves around consensual, though extramarital, encounters. His most infamous was his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, but there are a few women who have accused the former president of groping and sexually assaulting them.
Despite the harsh words, Larry Sanders said he and his brother both respect Hillary Clinton.
“I certainly don’t dislike her — Bernard has been very clear to say he likes her and respects her, but they have big differences on policy,” he said in the Daily Beast interview. “They’re not friends but they’re people who worked near each other for 20 years.”