(CNN) – Bill Clinton said Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich doesn't really deserve the credit he's taking on the campaign trail for balancing the budget during the Clinton administration.
Gingrich served as House speaker for four years of Clinton's presidency. Although the former president said the two had a "decent working relationship," he attributed the bulk of the positive steps in the U.S. economy to the 1993 budget, passed in spite of Gingrich's efforts.
"The vast lion's share of balancing the budget was done with the budget in 1993 that he led the opposition to," Clinton said Tuesday on NBC.
Gingrich rose to power in the House by working in opposition to Clinton's first two years in office and issuing his "Contract with America," a key provision of which was a balanced federal budget. After a stand off that resulted in two government shutdowns, Clinton signed the budget legislation in 1997.
On the trail, Gingrich points to the prosperous economy during those years and the bipartisan agreements to make the case for his White House bid.
"In the four years I was speaker we created 11 million new jobs, which was the key to the last big achievement, which was four consecutive years of a balanced budget," Gingrich said Monday at a town hall in Iowa City, Iowa. "No other candidate running this year can claim to have done anything on this scale."
Clinton said he doesn't blame the former Georgia representative for playing politics.
"If I were in his position I would be saying that because it is true that we worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass five budgets and they worked out pretty well for the American people," Clinton said.
In the 2012 presidential cycle, Clinton said the unpredictability is a test for the eventual nominee.
"The one with the greatest resilience, with the ability to come back from adversity will probably prevail," Clinton said. "That's what these elections are for, they tell you a lot about people and when you're just getting the living daylights pounded out of you and people count you out and you're down … that's when you find the something people want in a president."