Voters should consider former President Bill Clinton's "predatory behavior" against women before buying into the narrative Democrats have "concocted" that Republicans are waging a war on women, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday.
"He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office," Paul said on NBC's Meet the Press, referring to Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. "There is no excuse for that, and that is predatory behavior. It should be something ... we shouldn't want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office."
Paul, who some have dubbed the Republican frontrunner for president in 2016, has increasingly criticized Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in recent weeks and months.
Last week, Paul answered a question about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, by questioning Hillary Clinton's ability to be president.
"She's in charge of the State Department, and I think that's who was in charge that night, was Hillary Clinton," Paul said at a Commerce Lexington luncheon. "And you don't want a commander-in-chief who's not going to send reinforcements."
On Sunday, Paul was asked about comments his wife, Kelley, made to Vogue magazine in October that were critical of the Lewinsky affair.
Rand Paul, who accused the media of giving "President Clinton a pass," stopped short of saying whether a campaign against Hillary Clinton should include a discussion of her husband's affair. However, he said the affair was fair to discuss in a conversation about Bill Clinton's place in history given that Democrats are trying to portray Republicans as unfriendly to women.
"This isn't having an affair," Paul said. "I mean, this isn't me saying, 'Oh he's had an affair, we shouldn't talk to him.' Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office, I mean, really, and then to have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a 'war on women.'"
Kentucky's junior senator said the affair wasn't "Hillary's fault," but he landed a campaign-style zinger when Meet the Press host David Gregory pressed him about whether the issue should come up in the 2016 race.
"I'm not saying that," Paul said. "This was with regards to the Clintons. Sometimes it's hard to separate one from the other."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who appeared on Meet the Press after Paul, said Hillary Clinton "has established her own reputation, her own name and her own basis for running for president should she choose to do it.
"The issues that were raised by my colleague Senator Paul have been litigated in the public square for over a decade.
"For goodness' sakes, let's judge Hillary Clinton based on her talents and her vision of America should she choose to run for president."
While Paul has said he won't make a decision on a 2016 presidential run until after this year's midterm elections, he has seen his star rise in the wake of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's woes.
Paul's comments about Lewinsky come as Democrats have ramped up efforts to cast the GOP as unfriendly to women, highlighting issues such as abortion, contraception and equal pay. Meanwhile, recent Republican efforts to improve the party's standing with women voters have fallen flat.
In a speech last week that Democrats seized on immediately, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee accused Democrats of pushing women to think "they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government."
Also, Paul last week discussed the possibility of cutting government benefits for unwed mothers who have multiple children.
During a question-and-answer period following his remarks at the Commerce Lexington luncheon, Paul responded to a question about work force development by including a warning about unwed young mothers doomed to poverty.
"Maybe we have to say, 'Enough's enough, you shouldn't be having kids after a certain amount,'" Paul said. "I don't know how you do all that because then it's tough to tell a woman with four kids that she's got a fifth kid we're not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer."
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.