Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich believes former President Clinton's blow up during an interview on "Fox News Sunday" -- and the escalating war of words over whether he or President Bush mishandled opportunities to catch or kill Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks -- was premeditated to shore up support for Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections.
"I think that as the most experienced professional in the Democratic Party, he didn't walk onto that set and suddenly get upset," Gingrich said. "He probably decided in advance he was going to pick a fight with Chris Wallace."
This, Gingrich said, may have been a good strategy.
"I think as a calculated political decision, it's reasonably smart," he said.
War of Words Heats Up
The debate over whether the Clinton or Bush administration did more to catch bin Laden reached new heights Tuesday when New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her husband.
"I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team," she said.
"Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" is a classified brief that was given to Bush in August 2001 that Democrats say showed the Bush administration did not do enough to combat the growing threat from al Qaeda.
The senator took aim at Bush and Condoleezza Rice after the secretary of state told The New York Post that the Clinton administration did not have an extensive plan to catch bin Laden.
"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice told the Post. "What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years."
Could the Debate Backfire for Democrats?
The debate even dogged Bush at a news conference with an Afghan leader.
"I've watched all this fingerpointing and naming of names, and all that stuff. Our objective is to secure the country," he said. "The American people need to know that we spend all our time doing everything that we can to protect them. So I'm not going to comment on other comments."
Despite the brouhaha, Gingrich thinks battling over which president or party could have conquered terrorism is pointless, considering the midterm elections are more than a month away.
If Democrats don't drop this debate, he said, their chances of winning back Congress in November are slim.
"I think their chances are much less today than they were a month ago," Gingrich said.