Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is soliciting campaign contributions with the help of a quote from former President Bill Clinton — except, it’s not clear that Clinton actually said the quote.
The quote itself comes from Ed Klein, a controversial reporter-turned-gossip columnist with a history of poor sourcing, who said he interviewed Clinton’s friends for his new book, “Unlikable: The Problem with Hillary.”
Those anonymous friends apparently told Klein that Bill Clinton wants to “destroy” Rubio because of the threat he poses to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“We’ve got to destroy him before he gets off the ground,” the anonymous sources said Bill Clinton said, according to Klein.
Now, Rubio is taking that quote and running with it. His new donation solicitation has a Photoshopped image of Rubio on the television as Clinton watches, and asks supporters to “show Bill Clinton that he can’t destroy Marco Rubio.”
There are obvious problems with the way this quote was sourced. Klein allowed an anonymous person to indirectly quote someone else, and then reported the quote as if it were fact. Klein also didn’t provide any identifying factors for the source (was the source a colleague? a caterer? A family member?), nor did he provide reasoning for why he granted the source anonymity.
With such blanket anonymity, readers are unable to comprehend what the source’s motivations were to talk to Klein, who has a long history of smearing the Clintons and other progressive figures with baseless claims from anonymous “sources.” In a 2005 book, Klein claimed that Bill Clinton once raped Hillary, citing an two anonymous sources who “claimed” to have spoken with Bill Clinton about it. Klein has also used anonymous sources to claim that many powerful political figures are lesbians, including Hillary Clinton, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, and Katie Couric.
Klein’s new book and his previous ones are published by Regnery Publishing, a right-wing publisher that specializes in promoting conservative talking points. But even conservatives have bristled at Klein’s reporting methods. Right-leaning commentators from Megyn Kelly to Rush Limbaugh have expressed skepticism about the veracity of Klein’s reporting.
“Folks, there are plenty of arguments against Hillary Clinton, her policies, her views, her proposals, and her philosophies,” wrote National Review’s James Geraghty. “This stuff ain’t it. Nobody on the right, left, or center ought to stoop to this level.”
Rubio’s campaign, however, does not seem to have a problem with it. His press team did not return ThinkProgress’ request for comment.