It’s been whiplash-inducing to hear endorsements of Donald Trump by former rivals who exchanged such insults as “the prince of sleaze” or someone who “reinvents himself every year.”
Actually, those aren’t quotes from Trump or vanquished Republicans in the 2016 campaign. It was Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton who said that — and much more — about each other during their 1992 fight for the Democratic nomination.
Brown, the governor of California, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday, putting to final rest, perhaps, a feud that ran on and off for two decades. As recently as 2010, Bill Clinton supported Brown’s primary opponent, Gavin Newsom, though he came around to Brown’s side after Newsom withdrew from the race.
Back in 1992, Brown went after the Clintons from their left flank, much like Bernie Sanders does now. In one angry debate exchange, Brown accused Bill Clinton as governor of Arkansas of “funneling money to his wife’s law firm for state business.”
Clinton responded: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You’re not worth being on the same platform as my wife. I never funneled any money to my wife’s law firm. Never.”
That wasn’t all Brown had to say about Bill Clinton. He called him a “union-busting, scab-inviting, wage-depressing, environmental-disaster governor,” and later asked reporters: “That’s not personal, is it? That’s sticking to the issues.”
Even after Bill Clinton locked up the nomination, Brown refused to get out of the race before the Democratic convention.
But in his letter endorsing Hillary Clinton, the California governor suggested Sanders not follow his example.
Uniting against “the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump” is too important to delay, he wrote. “This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun.”