In a recent interview, Time magazine's Richard Stengel asked former President Bill Clinton why he was not a Tea Party "hero." Stengel's "criteria" were that Clinton oversaw a balanced budget and cuts to the rate of growth of the federal government.
However, as CNN's Wolf Blitzer pointed out to Stengel on Thursday, Clinton did so at the behest of a Republican Congress.
Stengel, in the interview published on November 9, posed this question to the former Democratic President: "Speaking of policies, you balanced the budget and cut the size of the government. How come you're not a hero of the Tea Party?"
Clinton replied "I thought I should have been their favorite politician."
"I think because I didn’t do it according to the ideology," he added. "I raised taxes and cut spending. I did it with a mix of policies that also left us money to invest in our future and in our quality of life. I think that’s really important. There are some things that the government has to do because the private sector does not have the capacity to advance the public interest in that way."
Stengel was asked about this exchange on CNN on Thursday. CNN's Wolf Blitzer actually challenged him on the point that Clinton was responsible for the budget and the decrease in spending.
"What he didn't say to you is that at the time, when he balanced the budget and saw surpluses, he did it in part because of enormous pressure he was under from the Republican majority in Congress," Blitzer noted on Thursday's The Situation Room. Stengel did acknowledge that fact.
"Yes. I mean, remember, it was Bill Clinton who famously said 'The era of big government is over.' He was under great pressure from Newt Gingrich and the Congress to reduce the size of government," Stengel answered.
"And remember, that was still the era. He was coming after the era -- you know, the Ronald Reagan era of saying that government is not the answer, government is the problem. So he was reckoning with that."