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. AR

    I would not want to be President of the United States if someone gave me the job. Newt and Callista have enough money, so I have no idea why he would want the job either, but I am glad he does.

    November 27, 2011 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. AR

    Gingrich/Palin 2012

    November 27, 2011 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Joe

    Clinton's comments will drive the right wing loonies crazy and ruin any chance Newt had of attracting their votes in the primaries. Clinton is crazy like a fox.

    November 27, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. irene

    Bill has a lot to say lately, none of which is positive or supportive of Obama. Why doesn't he just be quiet and stop undermining Obama already. Jeez, enuff!

    November 27, 2011 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. Discernment

    I agree Mr. President. Maybe if we keep our fingers cross, sanity will return to the GOP nominating process.

    November 27, 2011 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. Tom

    He shold be forced to live in a neighborhood infested with illegals.

    November 27, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Wise1Speak


    Other than Newt's three wives, there is not much daylight between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

    Both Gingrich and Romney say nearly anything to get elected. However, Newt is clearly the master of all issues that ails America, and he can pull enough Independents and Democrats to his side of the table to break the gridlock in Washington and start getting things done.

    November 27, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. N&W 1000

    Thanks Bill.
    Time for REVENGE against Obama.
    Draft Hillary Now.

    November 27, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Debby

    I can't get into GingRICH. His personality and how he treated his wife that had cancer isn't at all Christian like. I have to laugh at all the topics saying Romney's religion won't get him the nominee. He is more Christian like than Newt!

    November 27, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |

    Whenever you see loony libs and the MSM come out like this for a Rep candidate, you know it only means one thing: They think he's a guy they can beat. Just like McCain, who was their darling until he won the nom; then they went after him like the anti-christ and, as they expected, he folded like a lawn chair. They know they can demonize Gingrich during the general, and they are also lapping up his comments on amnesty, which will create 13-20 million more Dem voters. With Gingrich it's a win-win-win for the loony libs and MSM, whereas they know Romney would be a MUCH harder battle.

    November 27, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. Pete/Ark

    I've known Bill for 35 years...what I hear him saying is that Gingrich is one of the few Republicans who will at least look at all aspects of an issue rather than merely spouting dogma as decreed. He's still not going to win, but it's his one claim to moral high ground.

    November 27, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. fred ca

    Please understand... BC has spent 3 years watching a loser play at being President. Whatever else he is BC is a professional.

    November 27, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  13. Say what, Bill?

    I'm starting to think there's no one who wants Obama defeated than Bill Clinton. Motive? I think he still holds a grudge from Obama's campaing against his wife in the 2008 elections.

    November 27, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  14. zip

    Billy is clever like a fox. The Democrats are begging for Gingrich to win the nomination. Obama beats him in a landslide. Newt doesn't have skeletons in his closet. He has a graveyard.

    November 27, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. Washington

    If Newt is the Republican nominee, I'll vote for him. If Romney is the Republican nominee, I'll vote for him. I'm going to do what all Democrats did in 2008, vote for "Anbody" but a Republican. Sounds good already, President Gingrich! He won't complain about what he "inherited" from Obomba, but will go about being a Leader and taking charge of restoring confidence in the American Way.

    November 27, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  16. otermbachmann

    Bill, there is no thoughtfulness about Newter.

    November 27, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  17. Ja-Coffalotte

    He's just gaming, Nute is a career criminal and slick Willy knows it, Nute has almost as much passion as Clinton, though Clinton only cheats on the 1 wife.

    November 27, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. Conrack

    One politician trying to outstrategize the other. Who do you think the Democrats would most want to run agains President Obama? Gingrich would spolit the GOP in two, which would be good for the country. Don't underestimate ol' Bill, he's miles ahead of clowns like Rove and Norquist.

    November 27, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. yuri

    Both are womanizers and philanderers and will see eyeball to eye ball w/ each other, naturally.

    November 27, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. CBR

    Mr. Gingrich's stand on immigration is more moderate and probably appeals to independents. However, it is the rest of his ideas that must be more moderate as well. He and his wife have made video which can be viewed on the web. That video is enough to give moderates pause. They made it for a very conservative religious group and it does not send a moderate message.

    November 27, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. Jim in Georgia

    He will never get the nom...

    November 27, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. me

    Bill Clinton is a two faced maggot. He has done everything to undercut president Obama, because he doesn't, and never has wanted him to succeed. Anyone who can't recognize the back stabbing, has not been paying attention. The Clinton's are interested in power, their power and to hell with everyone else. God bless president Obama, He has had the ultimate struggle from all directions the whole time of his presidency because of the racial, the jealousy and the plain old "we are not going to do one thing to help, because we don't want you to succeed." Thank goodness he is the strong, intelligent man he is, or he would have crumbled under all of that crap. God bless this man and his family and people who know who he really is. We need to help in every way to get him re-elected. Our country is in bad shape because of all of this acting like a spoiled brat stuff, and I pray he can overcome the ugliness and save us from total destruction. I am a white, senior citizen from South Dakota, and I am wise enough to see what is going on.

    November 27, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  23. Sam I Am

    If you actually read what Clinton said, it wasn't praise. it was just an observation. Big difference. But he's right. For all the skeletons in Gingrich's closet (doesn't anyone remember he was bounced out of the Speaker of the House position for ethics violations?), he's the only viable candidate besides Romney. The rest of the bunch are too far right and will only attract a small percentage of voters. It's laughable when Michele Bachmann calls Gingrich "too liberal", when just a few years ago he was the icon for conservatives everywhere. Bachmann will enjoy the 17 votes she gets from her family in the primary, and then hopefully disappear back into the outback of Minnesota.

    November 27, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. chill

    Gingrich helped re-elect on Democratic President. Let's hope he can go two for two.

    November 27, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  25. Christopher

    Gotta laugh at all these inane, "we are a nation of law!s" posts when it comes to immigration. Remember Elean Gonzalez(*sp?)? The young Cuban boy who was taken from his father and his home illegally by his mother? The young Cuban boy who was in the country illegally? The young Cuban boy whose father wanted him back? Who were the people who fought tooth and nail to keep him here illegally and then crucified Clinton in Florida for obeying the law and returning him to his father and his home? Why, it was none other than the "we are a nation of laws!" Republican party. We are not a nation of laws. We are a nation of laws when, and only when, they coincide with our political loyalties. Otherwise, the law is irrelevant.

    November 27, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
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