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Clinton and Newt: When Old Affairs Aren't Old Clinton and Newt: When Old Affairs Aren't Old

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Clinton and Newt: When Old Affairs Aren't Old

Having covered the 1992 campaign, I'm struck by some of the parallels between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton. In both cases, their sexual histories were at first considered old news. People knew about them and discounted them. Then everything changed. Gennifer Flowers described an affair with Clinton. Other women came forward. The combination of that and his efforts to avoid the draft in Vietnam, which didn't come to full public view until the presidential campaign, led to his campaign nearly being sunk. 

In Gingrich's case, it's worse because he's twice-divorced, thrice-married and his best character witness, his third wife Callista, is in no position to excoriate his second wife for making the charges. Gingrich's advisers are probably offering all kinds of strategies at this moment, but the best advice is probably do what Clinton did: Deny and say the real issue in the race is the American people. "The licks I've taken are nothing compared to what you've been through."

If Gingrich wants to acknowledge his misdeeds in some general way, he can point to his conversion to Catholicism as having set him on a new course. That might be seen as a bit of a dis to the Baptist faith he left behind, and the eve of the South Carolina primary might not be the best time for that, but the former speaker doesn't have much of a choice in the matter, does he?

Please follow me on Twitter, @mattizcoop

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