From NBC's Mark Murray
During his bid for re-election in 1996, Bill Clinton famously promised to build a "bridge to the 21st Century." His message was crystal clear: Despite the earlier political setbacks in his first term, Clinton was the fresh, energetic candidate best suited to lead the country into the next decade. His opponent, the then-73-year-old Bob Dole, was not.
Nearly 11 years later, however, a few of the best-known candidates in the current race for the White House are making a sharp U-turn back to the 1990s. On Thursday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., embarks on his "Straight Talk Express" bus tour, after doing the same thing eight years ago during his first White House bid. At her own campaign stops, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., continually invokes her husband's presidency and enlists his help with key constituencies. And now even Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the '90s, is seriously pondering a presidential run.
It seems that everyone is carrying on like it's, well, 1999 -- or earlier. In fact, all that's missing is for Ken Starr to announce a bid for the Senate, Monica Lewinsky to get her own TV show, and former Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug to stick another vault landing.
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