Washington (CNN) – You know the debt ceiling debate has reached a new level of intensity when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich starts reminiscing about his 1995 government shutdown negotiations with former President Bill Clinton.
On Tuesday, the Republican presidential candidate told New Hampshire radio station WNTK, "Bill Clinton was, in the end, willing to be practical ... We were able to sit down, face-to-face, and negotiate a deal. He really was so much further to the center than President Obama is, and he was so much more flexible than President Obama. I don't think there's any comparison of the environment."
Gingrich continued, "I think President Obama's trying to impose a very radical vision of America, and I think the result has been that is has been very hard to negotiate with him because as you watched him again last night, he basically says over and over again, 'I want what I want and I want what I want now. And I'm not going to accept anything except what I want,' and you can't govern the country by dictating terms like that. You've got to find some way to work together and define a common ground."
But Gingrich 's comments from 1995 reflect similar frustration with then-President Clinton. He complained repeatedly about Clinton choosing to play golf rather than engaging in negotiations and for Clinton hanging up the phone on Gingrich. Gingrich also faulted Clinton as "left-wing," for seeming "to hate working," as a failed leader and for contributing to "stalemate."
Also sixteen years ago, Gingrich said Clinton "deliberately frightens senior citizens" and "deliberately misinforms the American people." Another recurrent Gingrich theme was of Clinton "systematically" misleading the electorate.
Back then, Gingrich also sounded off on the difficulty of landing in-person meetings to negotiate with Clinton. At a November 1995 news conference, he said, "I don't know how you communicate and negotiate with somebody who hides behind their spokesman and who refuses to sit down in a meeting and negotiate in an open way."
In the end, Gingrich accomplished many of the policy goals he put forward in the "Contract With America" and President Clinton won re-election.
Last night on CNN's "John King, USA," Clinton friend and 1992 campaign strategist James Carville responded to Gingrich's new comments on Clinton.
"I'm sort of enamored that Newt Gingrich is now professed love for Bill Clinton when he was trying to run him out of office and was encouraging the $85 million spent to try to have a criminal prosecution against him," Carville said. "It's like, come on, Newt. Don't you know that we remember that kind of stuff? Please."