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2016 plan resurrects Clintons’ past

Washington – As Hillary Rodham Clinton mulls a 2016 presidential run, reminders of the tumultuous periods of the career of the former secretary of state and first lady have re-emerged in recent weeks. There’s her husband’s affair in the White House with intern Monica Lewinsky, her ill-fated attempt to overhaul the health care system and the deadly 2012 attack at a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Bill Clinton said presidential campaigns always need to be about the future, but that gets complicated if Hillary Clinton runs again after losing out to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008. Republicans might press the argument that at a time when many Americans are unhappy with the nation’s direction, she represents a bygone era marked by political soap operas. Yet many Democrats say reminders of the 1990s – when the economy was booming – could help Clinton, and that rehashing her past more than two years before the next presidential election could dispense with a variety of distractions. If a Republican challenger or a Democratic primary opponent invoked Lewinsky or other retro story lines in 2016, Clinton’s team could try to dismiss it all as old news. “For the majority of people, this is an eye roll,” contended Maria Cardona, a former Clinton campaign adviser.

Vanity Fair magazine published a first-person account this past week from Lewinsky in which she said Bill Clinton “took advantage” of her, but that their affair was consensual. Lewinsky cited recently released papers from a longtime Hillary Clinton friend, Diane Blair, in which the former first lady called the once White House intern a “narcissistic loony toon.” Lewinsky wrote that she found Hillary Clinton’s “impulse to blame the Woman – not only me, but herself, troubling.”

When the magazine posted excerpts of Lewinsky’s account on its website, Clinton was speaking at a mental health conference and was asked about the 1993 suicide of White House counsel Vince Foster. The magazine’s story arrived as the National Archives continues to release documents from the Clinton White House that have shed more light on Hillary Clinton’s role leading the 1993 health care reform task force. That’s a politically volatile issue as both parties debate the merits of Obama’s health care law.

Republicans, meanwhile, have created a special House committee to investigate the Benghazi assault, and that could mean a long spotlight on Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. “The ghosts of Clinton past are coming out to haunt her future,” said Alice Stewart, an Arkansas-based Republican strategist. Even her first political event of the year brings back memories of the Clinton White House years. She will raise money Thursday for Marjorie Margolies, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Philadelphia’s suburbs. Margolies served one House term in the 1990s and lost re-election after casting a decisive vote in favor of Bill Clinton’s economic plan. Margolies is the mother-in-law of the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea.