April 20th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Gingrich: Obama-Chavez exchange will become propaganda

 Gingrich said Monday the president's greeting with Chavez will be used as propaganda by enemies.
Gingrich said Monday the president's greeting with Chavez will be used as propaganda by enemies.

(CNN) – President Obama's friendly encounter with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas will be used as propaganda by enemies of the United States, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday.

Gingrich, the second high-profile Republican to criticize the president's now-famous exchange with the Venezuelan leader in as many days, said countries hostile toward America will view the cordial moment as evidence the United States accepts Chavez as an acceptable leader.

"Everywhere in Latin America, enemies of America are going to use the picture of Chavez smiling and being with the president as proof that Chavez is now legitimate that he is acceptable," Gingrich said in an interview on NBC's The Today Show.

"What I find distressing is that this administration is opposed to looking for oil offshore, but the president bows to the Saudi king, and the president is friends with Venezuela whose biggest impact on us is that they send us a lot of oil," Gingrich added.

Speaking Sunday to reporters Sunday in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Obama brushed aside criticism of the appearance, saying, "It's unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States."

But in his interview Monday, Gingrich said there is a "shallowness about how [the Obama administration] analyzes things."

"It does matter to the world if the United States tolerates a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign, and then smiles and greets the person who has systematically been anti-American his entire career," he said.

Gingrich's comments come a day after Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, called the exchange "irresponsible" during an interview on State of The Union with John King. (Video below)


Filed under: Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Ken in NC

    This picture of Newt Gingrich shows that Meghan McCain was right in her accesment of the fact that there is a war coming in the Republican Party between the past and the future.

    Gingrich and other "OLD WHITE MEN & WOMEN" are not willing to be a part of the future of the party. It's still as if it is their way or no way and they still fail to understand that times are changing and if they ever hope to be a party that means anything in the future, they need to adapt to the future.

    April 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. magella

    Nice try, Newt. Chavez was elected through the democratic process. He was not anti-American, just anti-Bush. And if you are worried about the propaganda opportunities resulting from Obama shaking hands or bowing to other world leaders, why weren't you speaking up when Bush was giving the rest of the world eight years worth of "propaganda moments" through the bullying arrogance of his foreign policy?

    What's shallow here is your need and that of your GOP associates to criticize every single thing Obama does in real-time. Talk about "anti-American."

    April 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. Recovering Republican

    So we should go back to the old policy of "If you don't do what we say, we bomb you"? Who are we to be telling all these countries they are wrong? America – it's time to end the politics of fear. Look where it got us!

    Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to SUFFERING. This is the path to the dark side.

    April 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  4. RichM

    Bluster is not a weapon. If you want to remove the leader of a country, put your blood and treasure where your mouth is and go to war. Otherwise, give every appearance of friendship. U.S. beligerance is exactly what Fidel used to justify his very long dictatorship, so it goes both ways when it comes to propaganda.

    April 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  5. gene

    Gingrich, the high-profile Republican who is a"has been" just doesn´t get it. And the Republican party just does not get it, what Bush and the right wing have done is put the USA in a bad military situation by having our country surrounded by enemies.
    It is not just the half dozen countries who we oppose but the dozen or more countries who are being influnced by our actions. Just because the USa is the big dog (and we are) does not mean you can or should rule the world by force and war. It is Gingrich´s party¨s that promotes ill feelings , costs American lives, and make the world unsafe.

    April 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Baze

    I don't know how I feel about this dialogue with socialist dictators. They will use the warm atmosphere as a means to convince their people that they're doing the right thing, and then the U.S. will have to potentially do something drastic in order to reverse gears on that perception. On the other hand this can all be a mind game to appease the opposing powers while the U.S. continues to advance its agenda and empower the rebellious factions against such voices like Chavez and Castro. I just don't know.

    April 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. Philip Grant

    I hear that the moment President Obama shook President Chavez's hand that the Statue of Liberity blew up, the flag over the white house went up in flames, and the crack in the Liberty Bell repaired itself.
    There will be no more Mom, and no more Apple pie. Yankee Doddle will no longer be dandy. America as we know it will never be the same. The Republicans are right. Get that man out of the White House right away. If he smiles at one more democraticly elected president that we don't like democracy will be doomed.

    When Chavez walked over and extended his hand maybe our president should have spit on him. I guess that would make his
    detractors happy.

    April 20, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. obama/mama

    Here go the republicans making a big to do about nothing.... By shaking one's hand does not mean you are in agreement with them. Hand shake is a greeting..I don't care what Obama does, these clowns will always have something to complain about. I really do think they fear Obama. They fear he may actually do great things.

    April 20, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. clueless

    Thats the problem with these stupid repubs ever leader is legitimate who the hell is he to say Chavez is not a leader. There is always another side to any story. Thats why the US is hated around the world. who made us superior.

    April 20, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  10. Little Miss Sunshine

    Gingrich and Ensign are confusing Chavez's hatred for Bush as hatred for America. The fact of the matter is that Chavez has had a good relationship with every other U.S. President EXCEPT for George W. Bush. Plus we need to make efforts to repair our relationships with countries like this. I'm not condoning anything Chavez has done, but really the Republicans just need to get over this and to try to work with the guy. Especially since he seems open to trying to work with us now that Bush is out of office.

    April 20, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  11. Molly Weasley

    Funny, I never saw Newt Gingrich criticizing his hero, Ronald Regan, for selling arms to Saddam Hussein. I don't remember how he spoke up against George W. Bush "seeing Putin's soul." Or for Richard Nixon going to China to meet with Mao.

    The GOP hypocrisy level is way over the top. But the country is used to that, isn't it?

    April 20, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  12. Perry is anti-American

    yeah and that Reagon was gave the USSR tons of propaganda.... look where that led us!!!!!!

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. Bud

    Standard Right Wing approach to anything positive, go negative, as usual. Gingrich needs to take a hint from Bush, and just go away. And from me to you Newt, on a personal note, – Get Bent.

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Lexi

    "President Obama's friendly encounter with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas will be used as propaganda by enemies of the United States"

    And Mr. Gingrich and his ilk seem to be the first in line to use this meeting to push their agenda. Enemies of the United States? lol

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. David

    FEAR – Does the GOP know anything else to use?

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. barking republican ankle biters

    Smile Newt,your the only anti American in the room,you spineless draft dodger.Chavez was anti Cheney,the war monger and wannbe world dictator.

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. 'Professor' MoFo

    "It's unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States."------–Well said Mr. President!

    Ensign and Gingrich don't have anything better to do than whine about a photo. If they had a single working brain cell they would realize that progress (in the right direction) begins with diplomacy. Good grief!

    The Republicans apparently have a much longer road back to relevancy than I thought.

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. tara

    So I guess none of what Bush said or did was used as propaganda. I quess when Bush spoke all those anti–american countries and groups just went running in fear.. Newt you need to get it right. BUSH was the biggest recruiting tool for Alquieda and anit-americanism. You Republicans love to recreate history. It's a shame.. How about a new idea Newt. The only people that are going to use this as propaganda and the republicans to show how un american President Obama is.....

    April 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. Lynn

    Once again CNN highlights the opposition of a GOP has been. A handshake and a brief discussion at a summit become a "friendship"? Why does the GOP always divide the world into "friends" and enemies??

    What about a blog once and a while of a political figure who approves of Pres. Obama's actions?

    April 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Andrew

    The only enemies of United States that are going to use this as propoganda are the Republicans.

    If the republicans are so smart, what should have Obama done. Insulted a foreign leader on a public stage? The republicans are going to continue to be in some trouble. Always criticizing and never offering up another solution.

    I

    April 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Richie

    Illogical at best. "Enemies of America" are more likely to see Chavez as having betrayed them.

    April 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Joe Chanley

    Newt Gingrich? I thought we got rid of him! Please tell me why people are listening to him? Who cares? Have you ever heard of the saying "keep your friends close and your enemies loser?"

    April 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  23. Venia PA

    Chavez was ANTI BUSH, not Anti American.

    April 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  24. Tim

    Speaking to our enemies!! How shocking! To imagine that Obama actually meant it when he said that he would seek common ground with not just our allies, but our enemies as well!

    April 20, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  25. David

    He bows to the same Saudi king that BUSH did during his 8 years, any comments on that Newt? Of course not!

    April 20, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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