Gingrich reflects fondly on negotiations with Clinton
July 27th, 2011
03:29 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich reflects fondly on negotiations with Clinton

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."

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • President Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Keith

    Gingrich... why dont u get it.. u are a politician of the past. ur times are over.. we Americans dcided to move on....

    WAKE UP!!!

    July 27, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    He speaks? Where has he been! Another Greek Island cruise?

    July 27, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    The old womanizer has it wrong - the republicans were more "moderate" (as were the democrats) back in the "olden days".

    Thank God President Obama is standing up for the middle and lower income people.

    July 27, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Translation: "My ideological tantrum backfired and Clinton took my silly ass to the mat, sat on my chest and gave me a epic political pink-bellying for the ages, and now I have to reqrite history because I'm trying desperately to convince myself the same thing isn't about to happen to the ideologue army I helped spawn."

    July 27, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Mikey

    Let's see, in 1994, Clinton was a draft dodging, big spending, socialist leaning terrible President. Now, he's centerist? So, they were lying in 1994.

    In 2011, Obama is a big spending, socialist. In 15 or 20 years will they admit that is lie, too. Which it is.

    Obama, like Clinton, is a left center pragmatist. How else can you possibly explain an industry friendly health care bill, working closely with Wall Street, bailing out GM and then quickly re-privatizing it, and offering $4.7 TRILLION in spending cuts over the next 10 years? However, I'm sure reality will not stop the criticism from the far right. It hasn't yet and there is not reason to hope for rationality from extreme ideologs.

    July 27, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Inmyopinion

    Clinton, a Governor, law professor, attorney general had experience unlike Obama who had never ran any government division, had no business and no financial experience. Obama's work experience was that of community organizer. Because of Clinton's experience he was smart enough in recognizing Newt Gingrich in handling of the economy and the economy was very good for all of us because of Gingrich and Clinton.

    July 27, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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."
    You're right Newt, there is no comparison in the environment, for one thing your team was more willing to compromise and negotiate back then. Maybe, it helped that Clinton,although not really "one of you" looked enough like you for you guys to at least treat him like the President.
    Yet just as( if not more) importantly it may have escaped your notice Newt that we are in the recovering stages of a near-Depression economically speaking. Stunts like what your team is pulling of using the debt ceiling negotiations to push through your Party's agenda would be the coup de grace that would take the economy from the land of the living and are despicable......under the CURRENT ENVIRONMENT.
    Soooo.....thanks for sharing your "fond" memories of the man you tried your darnest to have impeached. I'm sure he has really fond memories of you and yours handing him a second term in office due to your stupidity, duplicity, and underestimation of the American voters.......just like Obama will.
    Obama 2012

    July 27, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. Repubs are like children

    Oh please, if anyone has been acting like a spoiled child it has obviously been the tea wing of the repub party. They have taken the debt ceiling hostage and have repeatedly demanded that they get exactly what they want or they won't vote for a ceiling raise. Proof of this is how they vote for related bills that everyone knows can't pass the senate or the President's desk, in effect crying and whining "I want what I want and I want it now!"

    July 27, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Vigla

    Newt, you are irrelevant. Just ride off into the sunset already...

    July 27, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. ConservaFASCISTS/Dutch, Bad Newz, VA

    He really was so much further to the center than President Obama is, and he was so much more flexible than President Obama.
    You actually shut the government down you moron. President Obama is more centrist than what we(liberals) would like him to be. So you can't compare the two. These republican terrorists are trying to destroy the country.

    July 27, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    Comparing Obama to Clinton??? A more accurate comparison is Obama to Jimmy Carter. Well, not quite. He's actually Jimmy Carter on steroids. A disaster this country will take decades to recover from.

    July 27, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. rs

    It is so fascinating how close Republicans and Democrats really are on the Debt Ceiling negotiations- yet the Republicans continue to walk away on the just one point- raising revenue through the end of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, despite the overwhelming majority of the American public who support raising taxes to pay down the debt.

    To me this illustrates how one point defines the huge philosophical divide between the parties. For Republicans, it is supporting the minority over the majority; it is supporting corporations over people; it is further impoverishing the already poor, our children and elderly to give the rich more tax cuts; It also is to be completely un-serious about paying our debts and budgeting responsibly. Republicans are, in essense, saying "I have a big credit card bill, so instead of taking a second job to pay it off, I think I'll just work part time and cancel my health insurance". It makes no sense.

    Democrats know there is an issue around our debt. We watched it build over those 8 long years of Bush II. Obama is willing to cut $4 trillion from the budget- even if it means impacting the most vulnerable people in America- all Republicans have to do is ween themselves from "wealthy welfare", but they can't. The difference is that unlike Republicans who wish to turn the clock back to a meaner America where people had no protections, the Democrats see us, the majority of the American people as our nation's greatest resource.

    It is too bad. I used to embrace Republican thought and once voted with their ranks. I cannot any longer. It has simply become too expensive, and too exclusive.

    July 27, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    History, when viewed through the eye of a newt, tends to cast a fog over everything distorting your perceptions of reality.

    July 27, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    President Obama has agreed to trillions of dollars in reduced spending, and tax hikes. Clinton raised taxes and cut spending.

    If newt told us he was a fat, pompous jerk with an ugly wife, I would have to question my opinion of him, because I know newt can't tell the truth.

    July 27, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Gingrich talking about Clinton, the same man he held impeachment hearings against only to find he was guilty himself of adultry and quit as Speaker of the House. Gingrich is a washed up old hore, 3 times over and Calista has done him in once and for all. Go home Newt, you're done and over and take "helmet head" with you.

    July 27, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. Citizen

    Bill Clinton was further to the center......
    Newt is your party anywhere but the right pole? When one is way off the center, the center will seem to be at a great distance.

    July 27, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Bill from GA

    newt, the ones who will not compromise are your right-wing nutjobs, who insist on no revenue increase. We will never solve our economic problems without increased revenue. Of the previous four Presidents, the three with a brain recognized that revenues had to be high enough to pay for this Great Country. Your term as Speaker would have been an economic disaster with the current tax rates.

    July 27, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. aloL

    The bottom line is, a Democratic president and a Republican Congress were able to come up with a sound fiscal policy that brought this country its largest economic growth in decades, with Clinton taking all the credit! Obama needs to learn a thing or two from him. But he's too idealistic and too far in the left, ugh!

    July 27, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Angela

    Clearly dementia has set in. He remembers their negotiations fondly? Their negotiations yielded a government shut down. Oh and lets not forget, years later Gingrich led the charge to have Clinton impeached.

    July 27, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Barbara

    Newt has amnesia. Not to mention...hypocrisy. How he can now compliment the guy he tried to politically tether and me. But saying that Clinton was much more accessible than Obama really takes the cake. About the one thing you can be sure about his Obama's accessibility. The guy has been fruitlessly meeting with GOPers non-stop since this mess gathered steam...and he has been willing to bend on entitlements like no other Democrat.
    Newt for President? Newt for Nothing... is more like it.

    July 27, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Bill from GA

    Bill Clinton is a greatly-admired American. Even Richard Nixon had his good points.

    Without his revolving Tiffany's account, I doubt anyone would tolerate newt.

    July 27, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    Gingrich also faulted Clinton ..." as a failed leader"

    What a joke, coming from newt.

    Here's a better one:
    I once had a dog that looked like newt. When he was walking away.

    July 27, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. harvey 60

    but Newt, you seem to forget that you and your Republican friends shut the government down, just like the Pea Party wants to shut it down now. the only people saying NO are the ones that have said NO for 50 years: no to voting rights, no to the war on poverty, no to taxes on the rich, no to curbing pollution, no to Medicare and Medicaid. the only times you say YES are to war, torture, big business, big oil, the Wall Street Journal and FOX News, the Koch Brothers, the NRA, and Grover Norquist and his tax cheaters.

    July 27, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Patrick

    After the concessions that President has given, Newt's statements can be used as an effective fertilizer.

    July 27, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. sue

    Obama is not saying anything different than the Republicans.....they are saying "We won't accept Tax hikes, no way, not now, not's our way or the there you have the common talking point of every Republican....bash the President, it's all his bad only you and 30% of America sees it that way.....from the latest Polls looks like Obama has more people siding with him, and blaming the the Republicans for this mess.......

    July 27, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
1 2