Gingrich: Obama is the 'anti-Clinton'
August 8th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich: Obama is the 'anti-Clinton'

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich had some biting words for President Barack Obama on Wednesday, bolstering charges made by Mitt Romney's campaign that the president is dismantling welfare reform.

The former House speaker, who worked with former President Bill Clinton to champion the welfare-to-work law in 1996, charged the Obama administration with using "radical" methods to alter the program as part of a liberal agenda.

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"There's just a remarkable difference between Clinton and Obama," Gingrich said on a conference call with reporters. "In many ways, Obama is the anti-Clinton."

Gingrich - who suggested to senior Romney advisers they take on the welfare issue - was asked to participate in the call on behalf of the Romney campaign.

Gingrich said the president's administration used a "gimmick" in order to issue a directive that amends a certain provision in the federally-funded welfare-to-work program. The administration now allows the Health and Human Services Department to grant waivers to states to change their work requirements for welfare recipients.

The intent, according to the directive issued via memo on July 12, is to "challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment."

But Gingrich contends that the section in bill, which he at one point on the conference call dubbed the "Clinton-Gingrich welfare plan," was originally written so that work requirements could not be "waivable." He said that he and other proponents of the legislation were "convinced that a number of very liberal states had a desperate desire to maximize dependency and to eliminate any work requirements."

His comments come on the heels of recent attacks by the Romney campaign over the new directive. In a television ad released Tuesday, the presumptive GOP nominee's team said under the new policy, people "wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job," adding the government would "just send you your welfare check."

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, however, has strongly pushed back, calling the attacks false and pointing to the part of the directive's requirement that says states granted the waiver must increase the number of people on welfare going into the workforce by 20%.

Clinton also responded Tuesday, saying Romney's claims are "not true."

“Governor Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true,” Clinton said in a statement, adding that the Obama administration had taken steps to ensure work requirements for welfare recipients were maintained.

“The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether,” Clinton continued, making reference to a 2005 letter signed by Romney and 28 other Republican governors to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, calling for greater state flexibility in managing their welfare programs.

But in a move to possibly drive a wedge between Clinton and Obama, Gingrich attempted to draw sharp contrasts between the 44th and 42nd presidents.

"Clinton was trying to move the party to the center," Gingrich said. "Obama has moved it to the left."

He also took the opportunity to jab the Democratic National Convention Committee's decision to select Clinton as the nominating speaker at the party's major gathering in Charlotte this September, calling it "one of the most delicious examples of irony in modern times."

"I hope every American, when they watch Bill Clinton speak, will realize how much weaker and less effective President Obama is than the man who is nominating him," Gingrich said.

While Gingrich earlier this year ran a bitter campaign against Romney in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination, he now says he'll do anything he can to help the former Massachusetts governor defeat Obama in November.

The latest debate on welfare is certainly one with which Gingrich is familiar. He frequently touts the 1996 welfare reform as one of his greatest achievements as House speaker and used the issue on the campaign trail this last year to attack Obama as the "food stamp president."

- CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Dave Jaipersaud

    And Newt Gingrich is the bloated fat cat Anti-American

    August 8, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. rrd

    Dirty politics. A Guy that was throwing all kind of bad words to Romney is sudently in love with him since he has nothing to do as a candidate anymore.
    How can we believe on their speeches?

    Seems to me I remember Biden and Hillary trashing Obama a few times during their primary.

    August 8, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Ted van Tol

    Yes Newt I agree, Obama is a decent man, in and out the Oval office.

    August 8, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. rrd


    Funny how Newt flat out called Mitt a liar during the primaries.. but now Mitt is such an honest person... get them dollars Newt.. seems you will do anything for money............
    Just like when Hillary called Obama a liar during their primary.

    August 8, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. kayla

    politics sure make strange bed fellows. mr. wimpy sending out his gorila to attack.

    August 8, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Bent Forward with face in pillow wrote: "Gotta LOVE Newt.... He knows how to deliver some great body blows"

    You must've interviewed one of Newt's former wives, being the lustful patriot that he is.
    But you subscribing to a lie shows just how easily manipulated or deliberately obtuse you are. Choose.

    August 8, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Matt

    Romney wanted the same thing as Obama, but now he doesn't, but Remember, Romney signs papers all the time that aren't true, bain capital? the guys a pathological scum bag, he's lied and cheated and flip flopped so much he can't remember it all. when he goes off script he embarrass himself and on his trip, America. and when he's stays on script, everything is a contradiction to something he's done or said before, abortion, gun control, I really like how as ceo of bain he made money off abortion. and the nra endorses the guy who has done more gun control then obamas even thought of. the guys a joke, a compromised candidate from the UN compromising party.

    August 8, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |

    Poor Newt. He thinks he's still relevant.

    August 8, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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