(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton suggested the Republican Party has become more extreme, saying Richard Nixon would be considered "a flat-out communist" compared to the people running his party today.
Kicking off a speech to a progressive think tank, Clinton said that to be successful in a life of public service, "you have to be obsessively interested in people and you need to be interested in them as individuals and not just as some collective body."
Clinton continued: "I always thought that was one of the things that got President Nixon in trouble; I think he really cared about America as a whole, and he was a flat-out communist compared to the crowd running his party today."
"But he had a hard time thinking about flesh-and-blood people and relating to them today and how these things would affect them,” he said.
Clinton's comments came during a speech to a fund-raiser at the Center for American Progress in Washington.
It was Clinton's second public event Wednesday. It focused on economic policy.
"Inequality is a severe constraint on our collective growth," he said.
Earlier, he defended his wife, Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who's considering a 2016 presidential bid, from Republican Karl Rove's suggestion that she suffers from a brain injury after a 2012 incident.