Washington (CNN) – A former Clinton antagonist-turned-aggressive defender warned Tuesday that the infamous “vast right-wing conspiracy” is already gearing up for 2016.
“The conservatives of today have no program to offer the vast majority of Americans,” prominent Clinton supporter David Brock told an audience in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to prepared remarks. “So we see them running scared, and once again, cultivating a culture of Clinton hatred, in Hillary’s case - as you can see - with a heavy dose of misogyny.”
As a young writer in the 1990s, Brock led the charge against the Clintons as they ascended to the national stage. He published stories harshly critical of the first couple’s record and activities stemming from Bill Clinton’s tenure as Arkansas governor and after he became president.
But years later, while the Clintons were still in the White House, Brock had a dramatic change of heart. Now he has become a full-throated defender of the former first couple, working through two organizations he founded: American Bridge, a Super PAC that tracks Republican candidates and includes an offshoot, Correct the Record, specifically targeted to defend Hillary Clinton from partisan attacks, as well as Media Matters, which seeks to counter “conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”
In his speech Tuesday at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Brock lambasted what he cast as the politics of personal destruction he once relished.
“At its root, I realized, Clinton-hating had nothing to do with what the Clintons did or did not do,” he said. “It had everything to do with fear of the change they represented on the one hand - and on the other a newly brutal form of partisan power politics.”
“Those same reactionary forces are still at work today, abetted at times by the mainstream,” he said.
Brock criticized billionaire conservative donors the Koch brothers, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus and conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh as leading a “recalcitrant, backward-looking conservative movement” that misleads voters about its opponents.
He singled out Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, who is considering his own run for president, for suggesting voters should consider Bill Clinton’s sexual history as a factor in a possible Hillary Clinton campaign.
Brock called the suggestion “bizarre” and “retro” and warned, “Those who want to throw stones ought to be very careful about setting the rules of the game in such a way that a candidate is responsible for the behavior of those closest to them.”
His Super PAC, American Bridge, boasted success in the 2012 election cycle by trailing Republican candidates and widely publicizing clips - such as then-Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s use of the phrase “legitimate rape” - in an effort to raise questions about Republican politicians.
Although Hillary Clinton has not said whether she will run for president in 2016, Brock said he had high hopes for her chances if she did run.
“There’s probably no better place than Little Rock for me to say: I know from personal experience that the best efforts of the right-wing to market political smut did not defeat the Clintons,” he said. “The truth won out in the end, and it will again.”