Newt Gingrich knows a thing or two about government shutdowns, and says President Obama needs to be the one who ends the current gridlock.
Gingrich was one of the architects of a 1995 government shutdown, but also worked closely with political rival Bill Clinton to end the stalemate and get the government working again.
“Bill Clinton and I would talk, I bet, at least five days a week through the shutdowns, before the shutdown, after the shutdowns,” he told CNN’s Crossfire. “We met face-to-face for thirty-five days in the White House trying to hammer things out.”
Gingrich said the same doesn’t appear to be true of President Obama.
“What I’m fascinated by is that President Obama [has] adopted a policy of scorched earth,” Gingrich said. “Is there no willingness to sit down?”
But Gingrich, who engineered a shutdown of the government in 1995, said much of the blame also lies with Senator Ted Cruz, the Tea Party-backed Republican from Texas who has forced a hard-line stance on Obamacare.
Gingrich referenced polls that found low approval ratings for the GOP.
“Ted Cruz is a very aggressive articulator of a hardline position that probably 20 or 25 percent of the country agrees with,” said Gingrich on CNN’s State of the Union.
Gingrich noted that Cruz is also a threat to the establishment in Washington. Not only has Cruz become a villain among Democrats, but also earned the ire of many Republicans who want the government shutdown to end.
“He is a dramatic dissenter to the Washington establishment,” Gingrich said. “That also means… he’s really infuriating defenders of the Washington establishment. I don’t think Ted minds that at all.”
Gingrich also thinks that public opinion may begin to turn against Democrats, who he said were the ones unwilling to compromise.
“If House Republicans continue to pass targeted, clean continuing resolutions to fund parts of the government and Senate Republicans demand day after day for the right to vote on these popular measures, the margin of blame may begin shifting from virtual parity to a solidly Democratic problem,” he wrote in an op-ed.
If the shutdown continues any longer and Obama continues his refusal to negotiate, Newt Gingrich said public sentiment will turn against the president as well.