Bill Clinton: Gingrich "not really" responsible for balanced budget in the '90s

Former US president Bill Clinton speaks at the Clinton Foundation's "Decade of Difference" concert on October 15, 2011 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California. The concert celebrates 10 years of the former US president's Clinton Foundation. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich often boasts about balancing the federal budget as speaker of the House, but former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday said the White House hopeful doesn't deserve as much credit as he wants to take.

When asked on NBC's "Today" show whether Gingrich deserved credit for balancing the budget, Mr. Clinton said, "Not really, but I think he did work with me to pass some good budgets."

Both politicians are known for their outsized egos.

Mr. Clinton and Gingrich worked together to pass the Balanced Budget Act in 1996, and the former president said, "Unlike some since then, we got our work done on time."

Mr. Clinton said he had a "decent working relationship" with Gingrich, but he added, "The vast lion's share of balancing the budget was done by the budget in 1993 that (Gingrich) led the opposition to. Ninety percent of the budget was balanced before the Balanced Budget Act was ever passed."

Still, Mr. Clinton didn't fault Gingrich for taking credit for the balanced budget.

"If I were in his position, I would be saying that because it is true we worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass five budgets, and they worked out pretty well for the American people," he said.

Mr. Clinton said that Gingrich could still emerge victorious, in spite of the attacks he's facing from his Republican rivals.

"When you're just getting the living daylights pounded out of you and people count you out... that's when you find the something people want in a president," Mr. Clinton said. "I was pronounced dead more times than a cat has lives."