Gingrich says he respects Clinton — but Clinton chooses his words carefully
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly finally got his long-sought interview with former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday — and used the occasion to ask a timely question about Newt Gingrich.
"You worked with Newt Gingrich. Do you respect him?" O'Reilly asked about the Republican presidential contender and former House speaker, whose clash with Clinton led to a government shutdown near the end of 1995 and at the start of 1996.
Clinton paused briefly before responding, "I respect his ability to think and do and I eventually hammered out a really productive relationship with him."
Watch the video.
O'Reilly was ready with a tricker follow-up: Did Clinton respect Gingrich as a man? Gingrich admitted in 2007 that he was himself in the midst of an affair as he led the impeachment of Clinton for lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Story continues after the video:
"I don't disrespect anyone who works with me in good faith," he said. "He was way more political than I would have been. He defended what he calls scorched earth politics and I certainly was the beneficiary of it."
He noted that he and Gingrich "worked together for five years," but told O'Reilly there was no way he would vote for Gingrich for president. "No," he said. "I'm gonna vote for Obama."
Gingrich also appeared on Tuesday's "O'Reilly Factor," and was asked, in turn, if he respected Clinton. Gongrich said he did, and said he thought he understood why Clinton didn't want to praise him: "I don’t think he wants to give you a quote that we could use in an ad next summer to try to draw moderate Democrats away from President Obama."