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. carmen

    Gingrich is right. It has become propaganda and he is clearly one of those enemies. The rest of the world and ordinary people get it. You should always talk first, shoot later, and only if you have to. The GOP is a pathetic lot.

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Ray from CA

    Newt, that image will not be used by terrosits it will be used by the Republicans.

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. New York

    Are we so insecure in our beliefs that we can’t look for opportunities to better the world Bush left us with? At least we have a President willing to improve the perception of the U.S. by example. The biggest mistake critics are making is mistaking kindness for weakness.

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. JRQ

    Newt was fascinating, as always. Notice how effortlessly he drops right-wing codewords into every sentence, irrespective of whether what he's saying actually makes any sense. Every time he opens his mouth, just count the number of times he utters the words "socialist" and "Anti-American". It's an amazingly high number, and he's never required by the interviewer to explain what he means.

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Kate

    Don't we buy oil from Chavez? So we can do business with him but we should not shake his hand right? I'm missing something?

    The top sources of US crude oil imports for February were Canada (1.913 million barrels per day), Mexico (1.219 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.135 million barrels per day), Venezuela (.962 million barrels per day), and Angola (0.671 million barrels per day).

    April 20, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Steve, Columbia SC

    Once again, we see presidential immaturity demonstrated by President Obama............I agree that our nation can maintain a "better than thou" attitude towards any nation, but to stoop to this level with someone who has clearly "dissed" our nation as a head of state, illegitimate at that, is not appropriate for our president.

    April 20, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. lostincharlotte

    "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"
    used as propaganda by people like NEWT GINGRICH...

    April 20, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. sngeorgia

    I finds the likes of Gingrich are the 'real' enemies of America. Proposing a 'class warfare', revolt and continuing a 45 year idealogy that has brought us to this point in history.......world wide enemies, a failed economic system, workers at the mercy of employers, sailing the success of foreign auto makers to fill our crumbling roads and wanting the American automakers to fail because they 'honors' work with pensions and insurance. Gingrich and the likes uses fear, anger and hate to keep their followers irrational in their thinking. Deny better schools because they fear if everyone was Educated, they can't be 'suckered", and unreachable healthcare that resorts to 'dumping' Human Beings because they're sick without money or health benefits. Is this what makes America GREAT?

    April 20, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. Richard

    Shut up Newt... I t just shows our president is smart enough to talk to our enemies, not just start wars the way you would. This is the same guy that said he would have taken out the North Korean rocket before they could launch it. So if Newt were president we would be at war with North Korea and Venezula right now. Real smart huh?

    April 20, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. tom

    I am one who wants to be friends with all the countries in the world but practical enough to know that isn't practical. Chavez has been against America for a long time and used Bush in the same way Barack used Bush; to capitalize on the negative views of Bush and to further their own careers.

    No wonder they have become fast friends.

    Any yes Barack, something as simple as shaking hands with Chavez can have an impact in many different ways. You truely are naieve. Same as bowing to the Saudi King. Or touching a Queen.

    April 20, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Ron in Indiana

    I suppose Newt expected our President to use the old republican procedure where everyone is the enemy and guilty of being a terrorist because they dont believe in the old republican ways.

    Sorry Newt, out with the old, in with the new. After Bush Jr, I hope this country never sees another republican in the white house again.

    BTW Newt. The bush family has been in bed with the Saudis for decades. But, since they are republicans, that apparently is ok.

    April 20, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. andrea

    Newt, and the GOP need to grow up. They make a big deal over everything, and in the process they look stupid. Good thing is that the American people have more in there brain then he and the repulicans do. If all they can do is whine about everything , and not contribute good and useful solutions that would help our country they should just shut up and go away.

    April 20, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Natasha

    LOL...... Republican has something to hide. They have decided to close off certain country to their benefits. I wonder what's really behind them not wanting to communicate with "so called enemies". Care to answer that Republicans? You can make progress if you don't find out what's really the problem. It seems like it's the Republican intent to isolate this country and that's the reason we have "WAR CRIMES".

    April 20, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. Christine

    The fact that people think talking to Chavez makes America look "weak" is absurd. We are all human beings on this earth and shouldn't our priority be to learn about one another and discuss our differences? Why is it considered good policy to rule with an "iron fist" and alienate the rest of the world? We live in a global society and the United States needs to understand "cooperation" NOT "obliteration."

    April 20, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. dennis

    there will be pros and cons to everything our president does on a daily basis for the next 4-8 years. i respect him for not turning has back which i believe what Chavez may have wanted. either way, shaking hands or having Obama's back turned would have worked for him, but to me it showed what a big man Obama is; bigger than many we have had in high government office positions since i was old enough to pay attention. it does no one any good to have tensions in this hemisphere just as well around the world. Obama is building his capital in the Americas just by attending. what good would have been done by ignoring Chavez? NONE!

    April 20, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  16. FL for Change

    Why is this man or his opinions still relevant in 2009? I'm proud that our President is not acting like the big bully and using diplomacy to save the lives of our men and women in uniform. Newt – go back under your rock...and RETIRE!

    April 20, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Richard

    The GOP has been saying far worse things about Obama and the United States than Hugo Chavez has. Who are the TRUE enemies of this country?

    April 20, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. brian holcomb

    I'm starting to wonder if we shouldn't list some of these republicans as enemies of the United States as well – Didn't we try foreign policy "their" way for 8 years ending in a solid failure?

    It's amazing how they want to brush aside the last 8 horrible years of this immature "I don't like you therefore I won't talk to you" attitude that did not further any U.S. interests or open any dialogues that could have led to breakthroughs.

    April 20, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Dave

    Sounds like it already IS being used as propaganda by at least one enemy of the United States... and that enemy is Newt Gingrich.

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. John & Sarah

    I have a newsflash for Newt and his merry band of Rethugicans.... Barack Obama (Mr. President to you) is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

    Sit down, shut up and let the man run the country.

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Joe Smoe

    Goofball talking again,people like this need to clean out their closet before talking about someone else about anything they do.
    We finally have a president with some COMMEN SENSE which it seems is lacking by so many these days.
    Chavez intiated the first contact, what did you want the president to do jump up and punch him out, yeah some of you would because that's all ya think about it violence. Settle all disputes by war! Really sounds good huh

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. Angela TX

    I say to all those who criticize Obama for not standing up to the Americas heads of states who dissed America, CHILL OUT! Obama did say he was going to listen and not dictate. Apparently some of these people had a lot to get off their chest and they did. It was therapeutic. Obama knew that and he did the right thing by listening. Now, next time would be time for business and I bet you these same people would be more willing to listen to Obama and show him the respect he showed them. Get smart people.

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Some guy

    Because the Republican foreign policy of arrogant condescencion and coercion has worked so well? Maybe it's time we joined the rest of the world in the 21st century. Have a nice day!

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. DANNETTE

    ...did one ever stop to think WHY Mr. Chavez and the majority of Latin America is Anti- American? Now that we have a President that is listening and willing to repair the relations between the US and Latin America...the Republicans have a problem. ...and that is that Mr. Obama is accomplishing something that they could not . He is showing these countries that with all due respect...we can come to an agreement. That we can slowly let down some or our guard. He wants to make it clear that the Bush era is over..and so is the GOP rule. It tickles me to see how some of these Republicans have thier panties in a bunch. I think aside from changing some the deepest cultural beliefs..such as the treatment of women and torture..President Obamas actions can bring the much needed conciliation between the U.S and the countries who have considered us thier enemy for so long.

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. Tim

    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.

    Newt is right. What he forgot to add is the enemies of the United States is the Republican Party!!!!

    April 20, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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