Gingrich: Obama is the 'anti-Clinton'
August 8th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
9 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. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    "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.

    Gotta LOVE Newt.... He knows how to deliver some great body blows. And having Carter there to pass on the mantle of the worse president ever to Obama is precious as well. Obama will NEVER be compared to Clinton but will always be compared to Jimmy Carter, formerly the worse President in US history.

    August 8, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Bill

    I thought this bloated blowhard had gone away (or taken a Greek island cruise or perhaps a shopping binge at Tiffany's).
    An irrelevant clown desperate for attention.

    August 8, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. Laverne

    The more you try and divide someone, ironically they closer they get! Obama and Clinton both will come out of this closer than ever and this little stunt will backfire on the Romney camp like they will never expect!

    August 8, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    "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."

    Of course there is – you bigot – Obama is half black and Clinton isn't so why don't you just at least be decent enough to admit it? Clinton is only being used to suggest that even though he is a democrat – he believes in work unlike the current president who would rather encourage dependency. I see right through this line of attack and find you and your entire party offensive and in severe need of asking God's forgiveness.

    August 8, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. ToldUso

    Fatboy hated Clinton before he got fired as speaker of the house. For the Newt to say Obama is the anti-Clinton would make him..... a Republican?

    August 8, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Jules

    I guess that's why good ol' President Bill Clinton is speaking at the convention. Hey, Newt – Where's George W. on the GOP convention speaking list? Are you trying to make sure that people aren't reminded about the first MBA president with business experience? Me, I'd be running an ad with both George W. and Romney highlighting their business experience if I was in charge.

    August 8, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Tony

    Romney and other Republican governors ASKED for waiver from the welfare program.

    August 8, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. Cam Spurgeon

    Gingrich is a liar,opportunist and a pig to boot. Why cover him and give him the pure publicity he wants. Lets see gis taxes too....

    August 8, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. SMH DP

    And this coming from a guy that calls MItt a LIAR!!!! Newt you can not even hold your weight against Romney in the Republician Debate!!! Mitt have a worse record to run on than you, well second though no he doesn't.

    August 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. B.

    Someone please tell this overstuffed blowhard to go sit down, we have all had enough of his vision of the future which is a trip to the discarded past failures like himself!

    August 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota


    Newt Gingrich reached "sell by" date of political revelence too many moon's ago to count (or care about).

    August 8, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. cali girl

    Newt is simply hoping for a job doing something.

    August 8, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. Voice of Logic and Reason

    Newt was reprimanded by his peers in the House of Representatives because he cheated and then lied to the Ethics Committee about it. Now he expects us to believe his version of the truth?

    August 8, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  14. Montykoolaid

    Wow, this whole thing is backwards.

    So I should listen to the insane person whos biggest goal in the primaries was to build a moon base (not feed the currently starving children right here in the U.S.), oh, and who also cheated on his first wife, married his mistress, who then developed cancer, so he cheated on her, then married the second mistress (all of them younger than the previous) and then ran in the primaries as the "religous" candidate?


    August 8, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. aaron

    Newtie will lie as quick as he'll cheat on his wife.

    August 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. jefflz

    Romney has made it clear that he has no problem with government give-aways and handouts. The difference is that Romney wants these personal subsidies to go to the wealthy and the corporate elite. Poor folks? They can just eat "cake". That he thinks a sleazy guy like Gingrich can help him is only a further measure of Romney's poor judgment and or desperation.

    August 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |

    Willard & Newton must have wax in their ears. They're trying to cause a divide within the party, but unfortunately for them it's not working. Al Sharpton called Newton out on his blasphemy that the President Obama is the "food stamp President," and Newton began walking that back. He's trying to suggest that president Obama is giving handouts to African Americans primarily which is blatantly false when in actuality, there are more causacion Americans on food stamps than African Americans. This is a terrible smear on behalf of Wilard and Newton and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    August 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Rob

    The fact that Romney himself has requested such a waiver doesn't phase Gingrich, apparently.

    August 8, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Joi Gibson

    And you, sir, are old news, unlike Bill Clinton, who still is very much liked and admired, unlike you.


    August 8, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. What is Mitt Hiding?

    Newt has always tried rewriting history to favor himself and those around him. Fact is that he claims now that he was the right hand of Reagan when the truth is Reagan desprised him.

    August 8, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Ex-GOP Con

    LOL! Ex-Governor Mormon Rich Money IS the "Liberal Agenda".

    Out of all the GOP candidates running and the Republican RINOs choose their most LIBERAL candidate?

    Put up or shut up Newt and push Ron Paul up to the ticket or spare America your phony outrage-there's nothing conservative about and adulterer. FACT!

    August 8, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. malcolm in St Louis

    Gingrich is a pontificating windbag. I have met him twice. He spoke on healthcare and went from being pro Hospice care to being anti death panels in just two weeks.

    His ego consumed the room, and it was large room!

    August 8, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  23. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Hmm... Maybe Newt has a point. The President should tell all those Republican governors who requested waivers to go get bent...

    August 8, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. n

    Obama is and will be looked upon in history as one of the strongest presidents to date. And still he rises, attacked from all sides and still he rises. As the first African American President, enduring insults and unprecedented disrespect from those in washington who claim the american flag and the constitution, and still he rises, Sabotage and willful obstructionism from the right to distort this great nation under his watch, and still he rise. Bigotry, hate and slander directed at this president never seen by any other president, and still he rise. A successful Foreign policy savvy and approach unmatched by any president before him of which is unappreciated by the right wing warmongers of the past outdated boots on the ground, send your sons not mine to die in a pointless war, and still he rise. Obama is so far and above from Carter, Clinton, Reagan, the Bushes. President Obama is what tomorrow leaders will look like . . . They too, shall rise

    August 8, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. n

    Newt just angry because that's all he can mustard up is a base hit. He will always be the water, bat and towel boy.

    August 8, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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