(CNN) - Newt Gingrich sought to put a wedge between President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton on Sunday, saying parts of Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention were “eerily anti-Obama.”
“You can take his speech, spin it not very much, and it's actually a condemnation of the fact that Obama learned nothing ... out of the 2010 election,” Gingrich said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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Clinton won high praise for his speech Wednesday in which he rallied convention delegates and made the case for a second Obama term. In his 48-minute address, Clinton defended the president over inheriting a tough economy and said Obama can turn things around in the next four years better than Republicans can.
Gingrich, however, argued the former president was taking subliminal shots at the current president throughout the speech.
“Here's Clinton saying, 'I reformed welfare because I worked with Republicans; you didn't, Mr. Obama.' He didn't say it that way, but think about it: 'I had the longest period of economic growth in history; you didn't, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans; you didn't, Mr. Obama.’”
In recent days, Republicans, including GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, have attempted to draw a contrast between the two Democratic presidents, essentially embracing Clinton over Obama because of the economy’s success in the ‘90s.
On Sunday, Romney said Clinton’s speech “elevated” the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"He did stand out in contrast with the other speakers," said Romney in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press.” "I think he really did elevate the Democrat convention in a lot of ways and frankly, the contrast may not have been as attractive as Barack Obama might have preferred if he were choosing who'd go before him and who'd go after him."
Gingrich went further Sunday, saying Clinton’s speech outshone the president last week and his role as a top surrogate “actually shrinks Obama.”
“You have a real president, and then you have this guy who's a pretender,” Gingrich told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Asked if Clinton could help Obama with voters, the former House speaker said the 42nd president could move votes for Obama, but it would not be sustaining.
“I think he can temporarily move votes. I would say the bounce Obama is getting coming out of the convention is 80% Bill Clinton,” Gingrich said. “He is a very popular figure for a very practical reason: The economy worked, people had jobs.”
– CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.
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