Bill Clinton says Gingrich surge a result of thoughtful positions
November 27th, 2011
12:32 PM ET
11 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. carly

    Good move by Clinton. a Gingrich nomination assures an Obama victory. But then again the nomination of any of the GOP candidates assures an Obama victory.

    November 27, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. Paul McGraw

    Laws, rhetoric and emotions aside for the moment, this is Clinton, the master politician, at work. That is the 'kiss of death' and not an endorsement. He is fanning the flames of the far right while remaining neutral to the left and doing no harm at a minimum. Far be it from Clinton to help a political adversary. He's good. He got CNN to report this as a positive for Newt when, in fact, it is the opposite.

    November 27, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. newt2012

    Gingrich is the most likely to make real reforms in Washington and he is also the most electable. His record of balancing the country's budgets and reforming welfare while unemployment was going down to 4.2% is a strong sell to most.

    November 27, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Gingrich makes some odd comments from time to time, but he clearly is the statesman on the platform, in the debates.

    November 27, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. Jean Sartre, Milwaukee, WI

    "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."

    First of all, what does "belonging to a local church" have to do with ANYTHING?

    Secondly, if I'm reading this correctly, the longer you have been in America illegally, created anchor babies, sucked up money from our social programs, paid for by American citizens, the more you qualify for some form of LEGALITY?

    Finally, I'm an independent and Gingrich has about as much appeal to me as does a maggot...

    November 27, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Ray

    I do not trust newt Gingrich,he was behind Iraq and Aphganistan invasion,if he gets elected we will get deeper into the conflict in Africa where 100 US military advisors were sent two months ago

    November 27, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. American Citizen

    Says the man that wants a third term as president, practically admitting he wishes a dictatorship bestowed upon him from the American people.

    I think it's safe to make a presumption here that it's time to ask other Americans – mainstream America, not public personalities, what their opinions are instead of Bill Clinton.

    November 27, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. annie s

    Fight Latino Occupiers, I'm sorry you have so much hatred against Latinos. Throughout history, people have feared and hated immigrants and time is usually the only thing that can prove those fears unfounded. We're Americans – we're all immigrants and the "melting pot" of different cultures is what makes us so unique. I'm from L.A., and I embrace the vibrant cultural differences brought to my city and my country by Latinos. As for language, I fully support the idea that Americans should learn Spanish...but if you choose not do, don't worry, in a generation or two, you won't know the difference between your Latino neighbors and anyone else. That's how it's always been for every immigrant group.

    November 27, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. SixDegrees

    Amnesty is inevitable; the alternative – shackling millions of people and force-marching them across the border – is simply unthinkable by anyone with a shred of decency. However, before we consider an amnesty we must establish a secure border so we don't wind up repeating this exercise again in another 20 years.

    I can't bring myself to vote for Gingrich at this point, but kudos to him for starting a reasonable discussion and shoving the hyper-partisan shrilling off to the sides, where it belongs.

    November 27, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Hillary needs to sit Bill down for a long talk. Gingrich is not so far to the left of Perry, Bachmann, Cain, or Romney to be considered a liberal or progressive. Independent voters should be very wary of Gingrich's intent to remake a federal court system that backs a religious social conservative agenda.

    November 27, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. Milton K. Wiah

    Fight Latino Occupiers, You are wrong on one thing. Not everybody who is illegal in the USA entered illegally.
    75% of the illegals came in with visas and when it expired could not go back because their aim for coming was to build a good life for themselves. The government or immigration officers could not control of all these people and so they
    ended exceeding their stay therefore became illegals. Even those from the neighboring countries like Mexico, a vast
    majority came with visas and could not return after the expiration of their visas.
    Just ask the IRS to tell you the unclaimed amount of tax return which is used to support other government project.
    And this money which maybe, conservatively, in billions came from the labor of those who you are calling illegals.
    America in part needs illegals to do the work you sitting office could not do. Every country for that matter needs
    illegals. Mind you, I am not an American, I am a Dutch-Liberian

    November 27, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Debra From Georgia

    Vote Gingrich for the Republican nominee.

    November 27, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. BENJI

    Don't care who the GOP puts up. On election day I am voting for Obama.

    November 27, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. FedUp

    Say it isn't so Bill. First you say you wouldn't raise taxes right now, in direct oposition to Obama. Now you say Gingrich has well thought out positions? Oh, the world is spinning off its axis about now.

    November 27, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Sorensen

    Right on. Play him up now for all the naive Gop people. His fall will be even harder.

    November 27, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. SixDegrees

    "Say it isn't so Bill. First you say you wouldn't raise taxes right now, in direct oposition to Obama. " – Uh, Obama was on the stump just last week saying exactly the same thing – now is NOT the time to let the Bush tax cuts expire. He wants them kept in place for at least another year, maybe two.

    November 27, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Shania Botwin

    Gingrich, Romney, Perry, Bachmann.... not one of them could beat Obama in an election.

    November 27, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

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

    Then I assume you are in favor of prosecuting all the American companies and individuals who have hired illegal immigrants, right? Because that is a crime, also.

    BTW, that includes everyone who's ever hired an illegal alien to clean their house, mow their lawn, or do construction for them.

    November 27, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. M.K.

    I voted for Clinton because he was the lesser of two evils both times. That appears to be the only choices we will ever have in this country for any political office. Both the Republicans and the Democrats have lost their minds, and there are not enough independents to change anything. Bernie Sanders as the Chief Justice and Ron Paul as the head of the CIA for starters would not be bad.

    November 27, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. superstar1

    bill just cannot let go.obama 2012

    November 27, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    As reported by CNN and others (including statements on Newt's website), Gingrich has pledged to sign as many as 200 executive orders on his first day if he is elected president, accomplishing everything from abolishing a circuit court (the Ninth, which he considers "activist" because he doesn't like its rulings) to further tightening restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

    This is not a man who believes in democracy; this is a dictator and doesn't belong anywhere near the White House.

    November 27, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. Just As I Thought

    All logical thinking Conservatives know that Newt is the ONLY GOP contender who can "take it to Obambi"........if you think Romney can win, you need only ask yourself why ALL of Obambi's reelection team live w/Romney's name on their tongue?? Just listen to who Libs say will win the GOP election & you will know who they know they can beat......Clinton is merely stating facts; Newt is the smartest of them all, but if you read further you will see where he (Clinton) also says Romney is the man to beat.
    Yes, Newt will be the GOP nominee but really, Casey Anthony would be able to win over Obambi by Nov 2012!

    November 27, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. JP

    You can't be proillegal and proamerican. Illegals cost taxpayers 100 billion a year, having illegals is like paying another tax, the more they get the less your family gets.

    November 27, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Little Jimmy Truth

    Good job to Clinton.

    November 27, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. AL VIDAL

    It is funny how the left and the right fight and approach illegal inmigration, I am a legal inmigrant, latin american legal inmigrant, who has been in here for 30 years, and even served in the US armed forces. I am not in favor of illegal inmigration, and I agree it is a real difficult problem that americans, not politcians have to deal with. The fact is, that with over 11 million illegals inmigrants in our nation, there is no way realistically we can round them up, and ship them out, overnight or anytime soon. But those who want that sort of inmmediate resolution, should remember, the illegal inmigrants...""NOT LEGAL""" have existed in this nation for centuries, and they have always found the path to legal citizenship decades before, these 11 million even made it to our land... It is historical problem, the only difference, it's the size of the problem have easy grown to exponential levels... So I wonder, is it right, for one illegal inmigrant in the past to get away with braking the law, while millions of them are ship out for breaking the same law ????? Or is it OK, to break the same law, if you are not LATINO, and not a large number ??? if the answer it's YES, then the next question would be, then the law can only be allowed to be broken by fewer amount of non latino inmigrants... See to me, that's is what is really wrong with the entire argument... this is not about the inmigration laws being broken, but the enormous amounts of latinos who are currently braking it... so in essence the anger it's more about the size rather than the act... if not, people of all races, ages, family ties, past or present infractors should be treated with the same disdain... and if people were fair... and agreed to that... the problem with the anger will still be invariably directed to a segment of the population that help built this nation.... yes... THE ILLEGAL inmigrants, past, present and future. try sostaining an economy without their influence in the past, today or even tomorrow... I am not sure what the answer is, whether or not we should separate entire families that have been perfectly happy for more than 25 years abiding by the laws of the land, like old generations of ILLEGAL inmigrants... I wish I knew what is "humane" and what is "ethically right" in a context of such large implications. The laws in the books should have been followed to the letter and the courts should have done their jobs... but this laws have not worked to perfection in the past, and they are not certainly working to perfection now, but the problem is the size of the problem... and that is a problem with trememdous impact in our nation... think of it... 11 million people living in a country as a segment of the population, yes paying taxes, working in your houses, cleaning, gardening, building, cathering, or even babysitting... nursing, supporting your community, and being latinos most of them, most probably going to church services... Of course, there are elements amongst them, committing violent crimes, or living out of the government, I know... but most of them aren't, so I can't possibly even beging to figure out how do we start the deportation process of such large amount of people... not to mention the enormous cost it's going to take to enforce it. But hey... Maybe a weaking job market, and deficit much larger, and economic desaster like that would self correct in a few decades once, white americans start cleaning their own houses, doing their own gardening, and washing their own dishes, or who knows, maybe babysitting their own children... I have no answer to this whole thing, I am legal latin american veteran, a american citizen from another country to came here legally to contribute to a great dream... I just hope that dream, doesn't die, just because the size of a problem we could not resolve, and allow our racial bias to indict the future of a nation of inmigrants (legal and illegal).

    November 27, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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