(Politico) — Former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican who co-chaired President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission, says that the president is “a little bit smarter” than some of his critics, who “ought to give it up.”

Simpson, who represented Wyoming from 1979 to 1997, said that Obama would have been “savaged” and “torn to bits” had he chosen to publicly support the findings of the commission, which was also chaired by Erskine Bowles, an advisor to the Clinton administration.

“This guy is a little bit smarter than some of the guys who are trying to hammer him,” Simpson said in an excerpt from an interview with the Denver Post posted online Friday. “They ought to give it up.”