(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton suggested the Republican Party has become more extreme, saying Richard Nixon would be considered "a flat-out communist" compared to the people running his party today.
Kicking off a speech to a progressive think tank, Clinton said that to be successful in a life of public service, "you have to be obsessively interested in people and you need to be interested in them as individuals and not just as some collective body."
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Clinton continued: "I always thought that was one of the things that got President Nixon in trouble; I think he really cared about America as a whole, and he was a flat-out communist compared to the crowd running his party today."
"But he had a hard time thinking about flesh-and-blood people and relating to them today and how these things would affect them,” he said.
Clinton's comments came during a speech to a fund-raiser at the Center for American Progress in Washington.
It was Clinton's second public event Wednesday. It focused on economic policy.
"Inequality is a severe constraint on our collective growth," he said.
Earlier, he defended his wife, Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who's considering a 2016 presidential bid, from Republican Karl Rove's suggestion that she suffers from a brain injury after a 2012 incident.