Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Newsmax on Friday that President Barack Obama has made John Boehner's job "10 times harder than my job was in the 1990s."
"I'm very sympathetic to John Boehner because I was fortunate," Gingrich, who served as GOP speaker from 1995 to 1999, told John Bachman in an exclusive interview on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV. "I was fortunate to have Bill Clinton as a partner, where we could fight in the morning and then work out something in the afternoon.
"My sense is that, with Obama, there's nobody there. Boehner cannot sit down with the president and work out an agreement that is honorable for both sides — and, as a result, it's much harder for him to lead.
"I also had the great advantage that we had a Republican Senate," the 2012 presidential candidate added. "Boehner has to deal with Harry Reid as the Democratic leader of the Senate, and that would be a nightmare."
Boehner, the Ohio Republican who was elected speaker last year, and Obama have had a tenuous relationship at best — peaking when Boehner abruptly broke off talks with the president over talks to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling
in June 2011.
The stalemate threatened a government default and jeopardized the nation's credit rating. The men, who once played a round of golf together, had been talking for weeks.
At separate news conferences, Boehner and Obama angrily blamed each other for the impasse.
"I've been left at the altar now a couple of times," Obama said wryly at his news conference.
"It's the president who walked away from his agreement," Boehner charged at his session.
A deal was reached that August to increase the debt ceiling twice — and it now stands at more than $17 trillion. Obama and Congress are mired in new talks
over the nation's borrowing limit — with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew calling for a deal to be reached by the end of the month.
Story continues below the video.
Gingrich, 70, was a 2012 Republican presidential candidate. He currently is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."
In his Newsmax interview, Gingrich underscored several issues affecting Boehner's trust in President Obama — immigration and the Keystone XL Pipeline, among them.
It also hasn't helped that the president declared this month that he would bypass Congress
— "I’ve got a pen, and … I’ve got a phone," he said — to implement his economic agenda.
"The whole environment has been poisoned by Barack Obama talking about using his pen, doing things independently," Gingrich said regarding immigration reform.
"A number of members went up and saw Speaker Boehner and said: 'Look, we think this president doesn't obey the law. We think that he has no willingness to keep his word, and we don't want to give him anymore authority.'
"I know Boehner made a point very clearly that as long as Obama is unwilling to reassure members that he actually will obey the law, it's very hard to move anything substantive on any topic, because the White House is so clearly dishonest."
Gingrich also scored Obama's apparent lack of candor in his interview with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News before last Sunday's Super Bowl, calling it "one of the most blatantly dishonest interviews I've ever seen an American president give.
"He just basically says the sky is yellow — and if you don't think the sky is yellow, you're a fool."
The two issues, illegal immigrant deportation and the $5.4 billion pipeline, highlight Obama's problems with his supporters, Gingrich said.
"He's got an enormous problem, because I suspect that the Democrats who are up for re-election in the various Republican states are all telling him don't touch [deportation] because it will make re-election even harder. At the same time, all of his allies on the left are saying you owe it to us, you should go ahead and do it.
"This and the Keystone pipeline are two of the classic places where Obama is under enormous pressure from the left to do something the country doesn't want," he added. "The country wants the Keystone pipeline; the left, of course, is deeply opposed to it. The country wants the rule of law, they want the borders secure.
"The country would like to see legal immigration reform, but they don't particularly want to see the president of the United States waving a magic wand and only doing part of it."
The new debt talks will strain Boehner's leadership even more, Gingrich predicted.
"Boehner will have no choice but to work out an agreement with the Democrats and pass it on a bipartisan basis," the former speaker said. "He will not get 218 Republican votes. They may have to go through a dance, where they pass something that has stuff attached to it with Republican votes — and then the president will say that he'll veto it and they'll come back.
"You may have a three-or-four-week dance, but … in the end, it will take a bipartisan vote for a clean debt ceiling — because the objective fact is that a president who is prepared to veto and then blame the Republicans has a great ability to do that.
"They had one chance to break even," Gingrich said of House Republicans. "That was the fight over the budget last year — and when he didn't break, it's now pretty foolish to get back into that fight again."
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