“All through that fight Bill Clinton and I could talk,” Gingrich said Wednesday on CNN. “And the big difference in Washington today is that I don’t sense that Barack Obama has anything like the personal skills Bill Clinton has.”
“We could get in a room, we could fight, we spent 35 days face to face negotiating, and you don’t sense any of that,” he continued. “I doubt [Speaker John] Boehner and Obama have spent 35 minutes recently in a serious conversation.”
In an interview set to run on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live shortly, Clinton recalled the two government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 that spanned a total of 28 days. He said he believed politics was merely a game to Gingrich, and that he was able to separate himself from that game when the two met privately to negotiate.
“Well it was interesting,” Clinton said. “We worked it out when he was trying to run me out of town when we were still working together. I mean I knew it was a joke…it was a game to him.”
“Once I realized what the deal was, I let him do whatever he could and then we did business on the side,” he continued. “And you’re laughing but that’s really…we reached an accommodation.”
Gingrich said he remembered it being “a little more principled than that.”
The Senate will vote later this week on a continuing resolution that is stripped of a House provision to defund President Obama’s healthcare law. That will leave Boehner and House Republicans with only a few days to react before the government shuts down at the end of the month.
Clinton on Wednesday said the difference between the shutdown in the 90s and the potential for one today, is that Republicans back then had to move to the center to win reelection, whereas the 2010 redistricting has created safe havens for Republicans who only have to worry about challengers from the right.
“At the time, because they shut the government down twice and because they wished to hold onto their jobs, the Republicans, they wanted to maintain their majority - they believed they had to show up and get things done,” Clinton said.
“This reapportionment has created a climate - particularly in the House of Representatives, but also in some of the states were they are basically one-party states, where they believe they don’t have to get anything done,” he continued. “They just believe that they have to demonize the opposition and say whatever they are going to say.”