By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – What are sexting former Congressman Anthony Weiner and alleged serial molester Bill Cosby doing in a presidential campaign ad?

They co-star in a new Donald Trump web ad mocking Hillary Clinton’s core asset — her advocacy for women. And Trump once again uses the checkered past of former president Bill Clinton as a weapon against her, showing images from his infamous entanglement with White House intern Monica Lewinsky – along with shots of the candidate with Weiner and Cosby – as Hillary’s voice is heard declaring her support for women’s rights.

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Campaigning in Iowa, Bill Clinton refused to engage with Trump, a strategy his wife has already endorsed by declaring: “I’m gonna let him live in his alternative reality and I’m not gonna respond.”

But it was Hillary who taunted Trump earlier by telling an Iowa newspaper he had “a penchant for sexism.”

As Trump explains, “I hit her back and I talked about her husband and the abuse of women…the tremendous abuse.”

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And now, this web ad, which may show up on TV.

It’s a tactic that excites GOP voters who abhor both Clintons and helps Trump diminish his Republican challengers by pretending a Trump/Clinton showdown is already underway.

And like it or loathe it, Trump is once again showing how adept he is at exploiting tabloid sensibility for political purposes.

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Usually, stuff this harsh doesn’t show up until much later in the campaign. But by now it should be clear that this is no ordinary race.

Jon Keller