WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich on Sunday tried to turn Bill Clinton's rousing Democratic convention speech into a liability for President Barack Obama, calling it "eerily anti-Obama."
Gingrich, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination that went to Mitt Romney, argued that Clinton's efforts to remind voters about the economic heyday of his two terms in office could be seen to undermine Obama, who is struggling to reignite the economy and job growth.
"I actually thought parts of the Clinton speech were eerily anti-Obama, if you just listened to the subtext. I mean, here is Clinton saying, 'I reformed welfare because I worked with the Republicans, you didn't, Mr. Obama.' He didn't say it that way, but think about it," Gingrich told CNN's "State of the Union."
"'I had the longest period of economic growth in history, you didn't, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans, you didn't, Mr. Obama,'" Gingrich added.
Gingrich, who was a sharp critic of Clinton during his presidency, added: "I think what it does is it actually shrinks Obama. I mean, you have a real president and then you have this guy who is a pretender."
Clinton representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Clinton jumped to Obama's defense at their party's convention in Charlotte, North Carolina last week with a widely praised speech that endorsed Obama's policies as the path to a vibrant economy and job growth.
Obama delivered his own speech a day after Clinton, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday showed the president widening his lead over Romney to 4 percentage points.
Gingrich attributed 80 percent of the Obama "bounce" to Clinton's speech. The election is November 6.
(Editing by Will Dunham)