Former House Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE (R-Ga.) likened White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to Watergate-era chief of staff H.R. Haldeman during an interview this morning, while still praising the Obama administration's approach to healthcare reform.

"It reminds me of the Nixon White House, and I think as long as Rahm Emanuel's there -- he's sort of the Haldeman of this administration," Gingrich said during an interview Thursday on the Today show, when asked about the White House's use of Rush Limbaugh to drive a wedge in the Republican Party. Gingrich called the tactic a "nice gimmick" to distract from the administration's plans.

H.R. Haldeman served as President Nixon's chief of staff, during which he helped orchestrate the Watergate break-ins and cover-up, the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre," and was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

ADVERTISEMENT
Still, the former House Republican leader voiced support for the way the administration had approached its healthcare reform agenda, arguing it was unlike the approach to the stimulus.

"I frankly like the way President Obama seems to be approaching this issue, which is very different from how he approached the spending bill," Gingrich explained. "The president talked a lot about bipartisanship, but then backed off and allowed Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Obey to write a totally partisan stimulus bill with zero Republican input."

Gingrich said the Obama administration could obtain an "extraordinary achievement" if they approach healthcare reform in a truly bipartisan way. "I think the key is: are they really willing to listen, or is that just a charade behind which they already have a plan they're going to pass that will be unacceptable to most Americans," he added.