Bill Clinton says Gingrich surge a result of thoughtful positions
November 27th, 2011
12:32 PM ET
3 years ago

Bill Clinton says Gingrich surge a result of thoughtful positions

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich earned praises this week from former adversary Bill Clinton, with whom Gingrich butted heads during his tenure as House speaker in the 1990s.

In an interview with the conservative online publication Newsmax, Clinton said Gingrich’s positions on immigration would help him appeal to independent voters.

“He’s articulate and he tries to think of a conservative version of an idea that will solve a legitimate problem,” Clinton said.

He continued: “For example, I watched the national security debate ... And Newt said two things that would make an independent voter say, ‘Well, I gotta consider that.’”

At Tuesday’s CNN National Security Debate, Gingrich staked out a position that he said was a “humane” approach to immigrants who are living in the United State illegally.

"If you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home, period," Gingrich said Tuesday. "If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out."

Clinton said the idea was a good compromise between positions offered by the left and the right.

“That sort of splits the difference between the immigration reforms proposed by President Bush and President Obama, which would give a path to citizenship, and would be a version of what President Reagan did,” Clinton said.

Clinton wouldn’t predict a win for Gingrich in the race for the GOP nomination, saying other candidates including Mitt Romney were still putting in strong performances.

“I still think Romney comes across as strong and forceful and knowledgeable, and I think Perry did much better than he’s been doing,” Clinton said. “I think Gingrich is back in the race because he’s spent a lot of his time in life thinking about these things. And he’s gotten in trouble because of people who have an ideology instead of a philosophy, because at various times he’s supported doing something about climate change, which is anathema to extremes in the Republican Party. But he’s being rewarded for thinking.”

In the 1990s, Clinton and Gingrich were often at odds as the leaders of their respective parties. A standoff between the two men over federal spending led to a government shutdown in 1995, and Gingrich was at the forefront in backing Clinton’s impeachment on perjury charges.

The two did work together on certain legislation, including welfare reform later in the decade.


Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. manhandler1

    HUh? Used to think highly of Clinton but whose side is he on now? Has he lost it in his old age?

    November 27, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. Fight Latino Occupiers

    I am an independent American voter who refuses to surrender our culture and government to Latino invaders whose sole intent is to alter America into one continental Latino nation. Laugh now, but Blacks, Whites & Asians will soon be forced to abandon their own common English speaking culture to the demands of a group that have no innate rights to be here. Clinton is sadly mistaken. I will vote for the moron Bachmann before I vote for a pro-amnesty candidate such as Gingrich who says if they paid taxes and have been here for a period of time, they should stay. I say they are already criminals for breaking the law when they first came. I am not required to feel sorry for them. They broke the law. If I break the law, I pay a consequence, but apparently Latinos don't have to.

    November 27, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. sensible

    Yeah.....play up Gingrich now.....he is a lot easier to beat than Romney.....good plan.

    November 27, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. sensible

    'Fight Latino Occupiers' has a point.... if a person commits a crime, he doesn't go free just because he has a family!!

    November 27, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Tony T

    Pretty sure Clinton, like most of the country knows OB is a lame duck one term huge mistake.

    November 27, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Newt said two things that may appeal to an independent voter, but it is the ten thousand things he has done and said that make him unelectable. Go Newt!

    November 27, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Wildone

    Although Clinton and Gingrich were on separate sides of the isle on the issues that were important to America, they did have one thing in common. They're both adulterers. But the thing is, can the voters overlook Newt's personal failures and hypocrisy when he demanded the former President be impeached for his moral failure? Probably, because Republican voters have very short memories when it comes to their own kind, but never forget if it's a "Liberal" who sins.

    November 27, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    President Bill Clinton is right
    Undocumented workers (Latino occupiers) paid $11.2 Billions tax last year, better than corporate occupiers
    Corporate occupiers take more subsidies than Undocumented workers
    Get real

    November 27, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. rs

    While Newt would be a disaster for the U.S., it does say something about the state of the Republican Party that a candidate putting forward even vaguely thoughtful statements gains them popularity. Clearly the rest of the pack is either insane, or without any value whatsoever.

    November 27, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Wes Monroe

    As an Independent voter who voted for Obama in 2008 I feel this country is ready for someone else to take the reins and put us back on course in a new direction to prosperity and jobs. Obama is no question a great orator however the "Transform America" speechs Obama made are over as well as his presidency in 2012. I agree with something Clinton said a few nights ago on CNN that Gingrich will bring both Republicans and Democrats back to the table again. When we voted Obama in 2008 we didn't expect a Socialist to emerge but he surprised us. This country leans to Center not to Right or Left...............this is something Hilary knew when she was running for President and should have gotten the nomination.

    November 27, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Peace

    Laws are not made in order to be broken. A law is a law so long it still exists. Trying to find the loophole in order to bend them is totally unacceptable. If one law is bent to favor some, why not bend the rest (laws).

    November 27, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    Clinton is shrewd, because he knows that with Gingrich's long and well-documented history of hypocrisy, lying, scandal, adultery, check-bouncing, shutting down the government because he couldn't get the seat he wanted on a plane, and general all-around sliminess will make him completely unelectable in the general election.

    November 27, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. diridi

    Entire GOP is full of reckless Idiots....o.k, They can say any thing on immigration to grab votes...What did they do for the nation, absolutely nothing....o.k, We are now in this position because of these GOP idiots....o.k,

    November 27, 2011 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    "They broke the law. If I break the law, I pay a consequence, but apparently Latinos don't have to."

    And, apparently, neither do the American business owners who have been hiring illegals for decades without consequence. If Americans, out of greed, weren't willing to lay off American workers getting paid a decent, living wage to hire people illegally whom they could pay cheap wages with no benefits, illegals wouldn't come here.

    Your beef is with your lily-white brethren who sold out our country and then turned around and started blaming others for the problems they created. And my guess is if you looked at the political affiliation of all these American sell-outs, the vast majority of them would be Republicans.

    November 27, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. SiriusVH

    Gingrich originated the idea of individual mandates which is at the core of Obama's Healthcare reform bill.
    Gingrich believes in climate change.
    Gingrich takes a middle-of-the-road stand on illegal immigration.

    Why on earth would GOPsters pick that guy to represent them? Because (1) Gingrich is not a Mormon and (2) Gingrich is as polarizing as Bush 2 used to be (but smarter than Bush 2).

    November 27, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Frank

    [Latinos] "a group that have no innate rights to be here." Duh... Read up your history. They were "here" in what is now Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California before the US became the US. Such is the ignorance that permeates American culture these days, the ignorance that Teapublicans feed upon like flies on you-know-what.

    November 27, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Keith in Austin

    Clinton is an astute politician that has always had the ability to sense the true will of the PEOPLE. His comments regarding Gingrich's position on illegal immigration appealing to independent voters is right on point. What made Clinton a successful president was his decision to move more to the right from his earlier left-wing ideology. He was elected for a second term as a result. Meanwhile, our current resident in the White House is taking the approach of maintaining a Socialistic agenda and promoting the argument of Rich vs. Poor, Black vs. White, American vs. American. This is the clearest example of why Obama will be defeated in 2012. We are the United States of America not Obama's vision of the Divided States of America!

    November 27, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. DanD

    I don't understand Clinton talking to Newsmax. It's not a legitimate news site. It is a conservative rag-sheet that makes Fox News look like the Weekly Standard. They have been proven time and again of publishing false stories and misleading accusations. They are the Michelle Bachman of news publications, making up stuff as they go along.

    November 27, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Sandy

    Shhhh. Clinton is trying to help Democrats by getting Newt the nomination.

    November 27, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Jill-IN

    What is your "innate" right to be here?

    November 27, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Clinton is just another lackey for the 1%ers. Don't be fooled or misled by anything he does or says.

    November 27, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. Mike In Carolina

    Immigration reform aimed only at Latinos is racist at its' core. There are illegals here from other nations but because they are Caucasions, we don't even include their presence in the immigration discussion.

    November 27, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. enuff

    For all those extreme immigrant haters... I am assuming you must be native american since there is NO way your ancestors could have possibly immigrated to the U.S. they just wouldn't haven't been welcomed under your list of demands either.

    November 27, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. m

    Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. No one really believes Clinton is serious.

    November 27, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. JPM

    It is refreshing to see Clinton say that. The best thing that could happen to this country is for a Democrat and a Republican to get together. Maybe not these 2 but anyone.

    November 27, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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