It wrecked Rick Lazio in the New York senatorial race in 2000. Oddly, looking at it now, he doesn't seem that bad. Maybe it was always only making people feel that it was bad. I looked at it again to try to answer the question I put in this post's title, and I didn't think what he did was the kind of inappropriate male encroachment on a woman that it was (successfully!) made out to be:
This key exchange came at the end of the debate, when Lazio interrupted Clinton mid-sentence, walked across the stage with a campaign finance pledge in hand, and urged her to sign it. Clinton awkwardly tried to shake Lazio's hand as he towered over her, his finger wagging in her face. In the hours and days after the debate, Clinton's team worked mightily to turn this interaction to her advantage. Clinton aide Ann Lewis told the press that Lazio had "spent much of the time being personally insulting." Howard Wolfson, another veteran Clinton hand, said Lazio was "menacing" to Clinton.I assume Sanders and his people know full well that anything domineering or encroaching or disrespecting will be used against him and that Hillary and her people are hungry for something to deploy to get that old feminist umbrage stirred up again. But time has passed, and he's getting loose, getting confident, getting... aggressive.... The power lust has welled up. We saw it last night. The lovable old Larry-David-befuddled-grandpa image can only protect him so long. Once we can visualize Bernie Sanders as winning, it's not cute anymore, and Hillary has an opportunity she can use.
"They saw this opportunity and they drove it and that's the clip that was on TV over and over again," Lazio says now. The next day, media outlets began to embrace Wolfson's portrayal of Lazio as a sexist bully. "In Your Face," proclaimed a headline in the Daily News. Jon Stewart titled his segment on the debate "Rodham 'N Creep." Eventually, the Clinton campaign's depiction became the dominant assessment. Lazio was "Darth Vader with dimples," Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times later that week. Clinton went on to win by 12 points.
If she dares.
It's a big risk when you are running for President. It's one thing to have a Senator who's a bit of a feminine flower, to be protected from the mean men of America. It's another to have a President — the one person standing in for us all face-to-face with the world's Putins — who needs our comfort and protection.