Hillary and Newt, fast friends

Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich have struck up an unusual alliance.

Published May 13, 2005 12:26PM (EDT)

Washington's Odd Couple of the Moment is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Or so says today's New York Times, which details the unusual friendship that's blossoming this spring. Both seem genuinely impressed with each other (Gingrich's Hillary quotes will make for interesting flyers come 2008), but the quick CW on the political calculation is that each can use the other to soften their political image; to steer closer to the middle as they plot their next electoral move.

First, the warm-and-fuzzy quotes from the pair of former arch enemies:

Clinton: "I know it's a bit of an odd-fellow, or odd-woman, mix. But the speaker and I have been talking about health care and national security now for several years, and I find that he and I have a lot in common in the way we see the problem."

Gingrich: "[She is] very practical. very smart and very hard working. I have been very struck working with her."

Turns out the two agree on how to fix America's health care problems (where was Newt in '94, Hillary must be wondering), as well as defense issues.

Gingrich though, is taking some flack from the right for his semi-adoring Clinton ways. Says Michael Long, chairman of the New York State Conservative Party: "He is trying to change his image into a softer and more gentle Newt. That is a major mistake on his part."

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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