If Hillary Clinton runs for and wins the presidency, she would be “very hardworking” and “much more practical” than the current president, according to former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
That is not a typo.
BUT—there’s, of course, always a caveat—he doesn’t think she’ll get that far.
Clinton brought up her relationship with Gingrich—the Clintons’ arch nemesis for much of his speakership—during a speech in Atlantic City last week, and waxed nostalgic for the kinder, gentler—or at least the less-partisan—days of the 1990s.
“Newt Gingrich would get up and say the worst thing about Bill and sometimes me during the day, and then he’d kind of come over to the White House and go up to the second floor and they’d try to work out what they could do on everything from welfare reform to balancing the budget to dealing with the Mexican financial crisis, you name it,” she said. “The artifice, the kind of public persona was shelved, and people actually talked about what they needed to accomplish. There is no substitute for that.”
Gingrich confirmed that even though he and the Clintons warred publically, civility prevailed behind closed doors.
“It is a tribute to the professionalism [of the Clintons]—we could fight, and we could fight in some really tough [ways] … but we were able to compartmentalize,” he said.
“I have a lot of respect for her,” he added. “She is very hardworking.”
The two have long had a complicated relationship. Clinton’s book, Living History, is full of Gingrich stories—but one in particular hints at the comity that occurred away from the camera.
In February 1998, as Ken Starr’s investigation into the Monica Lewinsky scandal was heating up, Gingrich attended a state dinner for then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the invitation of the Clintons. During dinner, Hillary Clinton writes, Gingrich leaned over told Clinton the accusations against her husband were “ludicrous,” that it was “terribly unfair the some people are trying to make something out of it” and that “it’s not going anywhere”—before leading the effort to impeach President Clinton.
Gingrich told The Daily Beast that Clinton came to him when she was crafting “Hillarycare” to get his thoughts on the bill.
“She didn’t take any of my advice,” he said. “But we had a very candid conversation.”
He added, “I got more votes for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) than Clinton and Gore did. There were a lot of places where we were able [to work together].”
Still, the fond feelings only go so far.
Gingrich said Hillary’s bid for the presidency is much more uncertain than many people believe because of the amount of money foreign governments have donated to the Clinton Foundation—particularly during her years as Secretary of State.
“It’s mystifying,” he said, that she let this happen.
Gingrich predicted that the amount of foreign money that has poured into the Clinton Foundation would be so problematic and toxic that eventually it will sink her presidential campaign.
And while Clinton’s admission that tens of thousands of her emails during her time as the Secretary of State were destroyed didn’t look good, the real problem is the Clinton Foundation’s ties to foreign governments and foreign money, he added.
“It’s not the emails,” he said. “Follow the money.”
It’s not just the Clintons who have a problem with foreign money, said Gingrich. Foreign money in American politics is “a historic problem”—a point, the former Speaker said, that he planned to make during his testimony at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on “A Global Battleground: The Fight Against Islamist Extremism at Home and Abroad.”
“It’s not just about Hillary,” he said.
But, Gingrich noted, none of the foreign money would have been a problem if Hillary wasn’t interested in the White House.
As he has personally experienced during his bid last cycle, running for president changes how people view finances.
“When you start talking about the presidency, all the rules change,” he said.