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Gingrich says Bill Clinton's speech is actually an Obama critique

September 09, 2012|By Neela Banerjee
  • Former President Clinton and President Obama embrace at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Former President Clinton and President Obama embrace at the Democratic… (Michael Reynolds / EPA )

Onetime Republican presidential primary contender Newt Gingrich said that former President Bill Clinton’s rousing defense of President Obama last week was an implicit indictment of Obama’s record, a new attack Republicans are making to blunt any momentum that Clinton’s backing might give Obama.

The Clinton speech at the Democratic National Convention was “eerily anti-Obama, if you just listen to the subtext,” the former House speaker said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning.

He added: “Here's Clinton saying, ‘I reformed welfare because I worked with Republicans; you didn't, Mr. Obama.' He didn't say it that way, but think about it: 'I had the longest period of economic growth in history; you didn't, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans; you didn't, Mr. Obama.’”

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The comments follow recent efforts by GOP candidate Mitt Romney to use the economic success of the Clinton years as a counterpoint to the lackluster job growth during Obama’s tenure. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Romney said Clinton “really did elevate the Democrat convention in a lot of ways and, frankly, the contrast may not have been as attractive as Barack Obama might have preferred.”

The Romney campaign has also launched ads that say Clinton is backing Obama because the former president is “a good soldier.”

The ad then scrolls back to Clinton’s comments during the 2008 Democratic primary, when Obama ran against the president’s wife, Hillary Clinton.  Said Clinton then of Obama, “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Though Gingrich was a bitter political opponent of Clinton’s when he served as speaker, he praised Clinton on CNN by attributing Obama’s widening post-convention lead in the polls to Clinton’s speech in Charlotte.

“The bounce Obama’s getting coming out of the convention is 80% Bill Clinton. Clinton is a very popular figure for a very practical reason: the economy worked,” Gingrich said. Clinton’s backing “actually shrinks Obama. I mean, you have a real president and then you have this guy who’s a pretender.”

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neela.banerjee@latimes.com

Twitter: @neelaeast

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