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. shucks

    Did this goofball ever think that the hatred towards the US and it's policies were because the last administration was arrogant, went against world courts, and used torture of prisoners not allowed by the Geneva convention? Could this have been part of the problem? That we were the George W. Bush Dictatorship? It is a new time. Talk to your enemies and rivals. Show them you can be civil and approach with cordiality and caution. I am sure that the President, who is a very social individual, who offers a smile when greeting foreign dignitaries, even if not our friends, shows that world that we are not trying to rule the world according to Bushes policies of disenfranchising anyone who Cheney and Rumsfeld didn't get along with. There were more countries that stopped peaceful talk with the Bush administration than any other administration since world war II.

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  2. CTP

    The Republican opinion is irrelevant. We've ignored our "enemies" and changed nothing for long enough. It's time for this country to get to work and make real, lasting changes by engaging all. Three cheers to President Obama.

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  3. Kevin -- Evansville, Indiana

    Talk about propaganda. The GOP tries to make enemies with the rest of the world so that the followers will elect and support them. They need a bogey-man that they can pull out and control people. Things just haven't been the same for the GOP, since the fall of the U.S.S.R. They tried to make the switch to Terrorism, as the new bad guy, but that has since proved incoherent ... you can't wage war against a *fighting tactic* The worst thing Obama is going to do, is show both sides that the evil-mustache caricatures that have been painted are ridiculous.

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. Some republican guy

    I hope you all got the memo. "Elitism" is this week's buzzword. "Socialism" is so two weeks ago. Have a nice day!

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. DJ

    Mr Gingrich always has some criticism, but never offers any solutions. Would he have not even attended the conference? What would his agenda had been? Sounds like he would have been confrontational with these leaders of other countries.

    Please tell us Mr Gingrich, what would you have done? Please andybody in the GOP, tell us your plans?

    You are relegating yourselves to the party of no. These are the people who grew government larger than any time before, now all of a sudden want fiscal responsibility. The ones who took us to two wars, want to continue to isolate us from the rest of the world. The ones who let our trade defecits grow in the name of profit. The ones who allowed all these crazy financial stuff go on. Now the GOP wants to be the party of the "people".

    BTW – Gov Sanford of South Carolina governor wants the "stimulus" money so he can pay down the state's debt vs using for what it is intended to do. Has anyone thought about who and how the State got into so much debt? Where was his "fiscal responsibility" when he was running up the debt? He is still asking for a federal "handout" byt wanting money to pay down the debt he allowed his state to incur.

    April 20, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. elliott

    ....a socialist by any other name.........

    April 20, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. Rick Santay

    Wah, wah wah. Those out of power always take pot shots, nothing more. How could these guys (retred Gingrich, et. al.) even have the faintest clue what Obama is up to? Their party has no direction, no vision and their policies have painted the world into a corner from which Mr. Obama is trying to extract us. Don't blame the Republicans, though because they have a disability: they're all blind, especially about the world and the place of the United States in the world.

    April 20, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Tom

    Newt Gingrich? He matters why? He did more than enough to tear this country down when he held elective office. We need hear no more from him. Obama's not perfect–and I agree with the criticism insofar as the picture with Chavez looked a bit too chummy–but the overall fact here is that Obama is doing things in a different way that has a chance to succeed. He is treating people around the world with respect. What a concept! People like Gingrich and lot of other GOP folks don't understand that, but the rest of us do.

    April 20, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. Jackie

    Who gives a rat's behind? They critize EVERYTHING Obama does, so that's just another one. Why are they still friends with China? Give me a break. The world hated the Republicans and if Obama can bridge the hatred gap...go for it!

    April 20, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. Slacko

    Newt Gingrich is a man living in the past. It's incredibly ironic that he thinks the Obama administration is being "shallow" in its analysis, when his own philosophy of foreign policy is to be militaristic, arrogant, and bombastic at every given opportunity. Obama knows what he is doing - all Gingrich knows how to do is bluster to make himself look stronger. You're a nerd, Gingrich, and nobody feels threatened by you.

    April 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Kyko

    Even if Obama finds the midas touch, there will be political skunks who will criticize him. Mr. Gingrich, get a life.

    April 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Skyview

    Newt's opinions about the President's acts should be put in the context of the Contract On America...a gymic intended to gain attention for personal gain.

    April 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Carol Myers

    If I am not mistaken, Reagan had his picture taken with the leader of Russia and he was smiling. Nixon had his picture taken with the leader of China and he was smiling. Both of these countries at the time were at the time "our enemies". Does anyone remember the Cold War? All the members of the party of NO can do is criticise Pres. Obama, no matter what he does or says. I for one agree with Megan McCann, The Republican part today is the the party of the past, just listen to all their spokes persons.
    Carol

    April 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. oh please

    Oh Please give me a break it is what it is what the other administration did had no impact on Chavez and his politics and where he stands in his country. The GOP is grasping at straws trying to find anything to attack Obama on and they are grasping because they have no ideas to counter him he is a smart and brilliant man and they have no ideas to counter that besides taxes, taxes, taxes, small government, and oh yeah we are so unsafe now because Obama is opening up conversations with other countries. Has not talking to these other nations made us safer in the past 8 years or cause more Anti-American rhetoric around the world. We have to listen where other countries are coming from in their view of the world and America so that we can some how combat the Anti-American rhetoric out there and put the truth about America or possibly just maybe treat people better we are not perfect we have a lot of bad history as well as good and I do think our good out ways our bad not everyone or country is going to see it like that especially if they were on the recieving end of the perceived bad. So Newt come up with some good ideas some 21st century ideas and maybe you could be taken half way seriously!!!

    April 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Rob Johnson

    Chavez may be a nut, second only to Kim Jong Il on the international scene today, but that still doesn't mean we need to be locked in mortal combat with him. It would be better for the United States to get along with Chavez than to not get along with Chavez. I don't see how that can possibly hurt us, except wounding the pride of some arrogant neocons.

    I'm sure Gingrich and his ilk would love to see us invade Venezuela and attempt some kind of regime change, but luckily we have a President who doesn't see military force as the solution to the world's problems.

    April 20, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. Jack in CA

    I am tired of hearing about this already. Let's face it, he screwed up, now let's move on to the next thing.

    April 20, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. disgusted

    I think there is a shallowness about how the GOP analyzes things.

    April 20, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. txkboy

    As President, it was correct to shake the man's hand. Too much to accept a gift (the book) from him. As far as Chavez' other reteric goes, if I were President, my stance would have been get rid of the Russian/
    Cuban weapons factory, and the Iranians working the oil fields, then we'll talk. Diplomacy at it's finest.

    April 20, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. John

    Dear MISTER Gingrich,

    In case you didn't notice, the United States has considerably fewer enemies than it did on January 19th. I, for one, would be glad to restore relations with PRESIDENT Chavez. Please go away.

    -America

    April 20, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. Yisehak, CT

    Tell Newt to get lost. Time is changing now it is not Bush era. Newt at this point you and your people are irrelevant and go away because nothing good comes out of your mouth.

    April 20, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Carol Myers

    If I am not mistaken, Reagan had his picture taken with the leader of Russia and he was smiling. Nixon had his picture taken with the leader of China and he was smiling. Both of these countries at the time were at the time "our enemies". Does anyone remember the Cold War? All the members of the party of NO can do is criticise Pres. Obama, no matter what he does or says. I for one agree with Megan McCann, The Republican part today is the the party of the past, just listen to all their spokes persons.
    Carol Myers

    April 20, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. obp

    I guess they wanted obama to punch chavez in the face?? no matter what this man does it will never be enough for these people. its like being in a bad relationship where no matter what you do its never good enough or to little. Get a life man really!

    April 20, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. simonsays

    I think Barak was just displaying a little hero worship.

    April 20, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. Mark in Atlanta

    Count on Republicans to use the President acting Presidential as an excuse to return to their big oil wet dreams of turning the gulf into oil platforms.

    April 20, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. Tim

    This is just ridiculous. Republicans look stupid for trying to make this into a real foreign ploicy issue. Next we'll hear what "Joe the Plumber" thinks about the handshake.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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