September 12th, 2013
07:40 PM ET
11 months ago

Gingrich: Putin is a dictator and a thug

(CNN) – Americans shouldn't let Vladimir Putin's opinions get under their skin because the Russian president is a one-time KGB officer whose primary interest is nationalism, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday.

"While we have to deal with him as the president of Russia, we don't have to respect his views. We don't have to respect his opinions," said Gingrich, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."

"And frankly, we should laugh at him when he tries to lecture America about exceptionalism, because he ain't exceptional. He's just one more in a long tradition of dictators and thugs."

Putin rattled some Americans, including high-profile figures in Washington, when he argued in a New York Times op-ed against U.S. military intervention in Syria. In the final paragraph, he took issue with the idea of America being the proverbial shining city on a hill.

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," he wrote.

His comment was a jab at President Barack Obama who said in a speech on Tuesday America has an obligation to respond to situations like the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"That's what makes us exceptional," Obama said.

Some were not amused by Putin's advice.

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said on CNN the piece made him almost want "to vomit," and House Speaker John Boehner said he was "insulted."

Read: Vladimir Putin's comments on American exceptionalism, Syria cause a fuss

But Gingrich said Putin shouldn't be taken seriously.

"This is a guy who, for public relations purposes, wrestles bears. He shoots tigers, stripped to the waist, to prove he's a tough guy," he said.

The former House speaker pointed to Putin's history as a former intelligence officer for the KGB, where he worked from 1975-1992.

Gingrich also argued Putin was behind the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the conflict in Chechnya has killed thousands.

He expressed doubt the opinion piece was even written by Putin, saying it was likely penned by a Washington speechwriters.

"You can go through and read that document and you could find at every single stage find that it's a lie," Gingrich said. "For us to take it seriously is a sign that we have forgotten who Vladimir Putin is."


Filed under: Crossfire • Newt Gingrich • Russia
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    I do not know why you guys are giving that communist idiot a weight. Do you know even Bread is scarcity there. I do not pay ant attention. He and Syria are one.

    September 12, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  2. Rick

    Don't post this story like it's breaking news with red headlines. What else was Newt on Crossfire supposed to say?

    September 12, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Solomon Walker

    Takes one to know one.

    September 12, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Being a dictator and a thug appeals to right wingnuts.

    September 12, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. GB

    The "thug" is winning the diplomatic war. Newt Gingrich is a relic. He should be happy to have a job.

    September 12, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  6. Steve S

    Newt may be a shining example of everything that's wrong in American politics.
    BUT....he's got Putin down pat for sure.

    September 12, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Clement Arbruster Bodog Castlenut, Jr.

    Newt, I stopped taking you seriously decades ago.

    September 12, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Anon

    Why are all of our old men politicians being so arrogant towards the middle east and eastern Allies? I'm afraid for my life here.

    September 12, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. beerndrums

    I believe him more than any American politician....you people lie more than anyone

    September 12, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. jimminn

    I think Putin showed a lot more intelligence than our gung ho go to war president. He is negotiating with people instead of bombing them. Get with the peaceful solution Newt.

    September 12, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  11. Tim

    At this point, most people might find the President of Russia more "trustworthy" than a slimey Republican like Newt Gingrich.

    September 12, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. whatever

    So Putin is a lier and we are so honest. We were so honest about WMD's in Iraq that up to this point we are still looking for them. We are so honest that we were attacked on 9/11 by people whom we financially supported and trained. We are so honest that we are still looking for a single piece of solid evidence to prove that it was Assad's army responsible for chemical attack. We are so high tech, but yet we weren't able intercept anything related to this attack. We are so high tech that we let Boston get attacked even though Russians warned us about those guys. And when we go to war, we don't kill our enemies and civilians don't die in crossfire. We sit there and eat candy with them. Is that what you are trying to say?

    September 12, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. richardparadox163

    So we should disregard what Putin says about not intervening in Syria but we SHOULD listen to Gingrich when he tells us the exact same things.

    September 12, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. George

    I saw a segment of crossfire with Newt. It was terrible. He was not even confident speaking about what he knew. Camera Shy for once?

    September 12, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Jon

    Calling Putin names doesn't change the fact that he was still RIGHT in this case. Americans don't like to hear it. We don't like to think that anyone has anything to tell us that we don't know or that we need to improve upon. Its arrogance, and its one of the primary reasons why even our allies hold us at a distance.

    America does not always have to lead. We don't always have to be in charge. We don't always have to tell people what to do because "we know better". We are a part of a large community and we need to start embracing that properly.

    September 12, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. Mark

    ""While we have to deal with him as the president of Russia, we don't have to respect his views. We don't have to respect his opinions," said Gingrich, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."

    ....and I do not need anyone tell me whose views to listen to. Strange enough, for a man so well educated, his argument is do not listen because Putin is a bad man – that is a classic ad hominem. How about do not listen because Putin is a nationalist – hmmm probably very true...how is listening to Gingrich any different? There is no difference.

    September 12, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  17. Philo Americana

    Obama is pushing for Turkey to be entered into the EU, furthering the advance of Islam into Europe. He and others have promoted Bosnian and Albanian interests over the Christian interests of Serbia. Obama has put Sunni fundamentalists in power in Libya, backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, armed and supports fundamentalists in Libya and Syria, and is trying to start a war for them.

    Not a word about the Christians of Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, or elsewhere. Obama defends Sunnis from the Maghreb to the Levant. But he wont dare hold up the cross.

    That should tell you all you need to know.

    September 12, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Gary Vey

    This man should have hung it uo years ago... but CNN gave him a job as a talking head. How low can you go? Tune in...

    September 12, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  19. humanone

    For the first time I actually agree with the Gingrich.

    September 12, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. Randy W

    I think it's hilarious that Mr. Gingrich – of all the new hosts of Crossfire – is the one who has the gall to dismiss Mr. Putin's opinion based on his past, when Mr. Gingrich's own past is very public and riddled with lies and deceit. At least Mr. Putin has proposed a solution to the Syria issue that doesn't involve further death and destruction, which is more than most American politicians, pundits, and even our own President can claim. Give credit where credit is due. Vladimir Putin may not be a nice man by anyone's standards, but in this situation, he seems to be the sole voice of reason.

    I'd also like to point out that certain people's cages wouldn't be rattled so much by Mr. Putin's comments were there not at least a hint of truth behind his statement. I feel like America has a great and exceptional history, but we have long ridden the coat-tails of our predecessors and have fallen into decline, whereas other countries, especially China, are on the rise. When confronted by this reality, people feel threatened and lash out at the truth. America can be a great nation again, but we have a lot of housecleaning to do in order to get there.

    September 12, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. dave

    Gingrich has been so wrong about so many things.. you'd be a fo*l to listen to him

    September 12, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  22. oh no!

    russia's president putin did a great job and not only saved a lot of american lives but made a fool out of obama for trying to start a war before negotiating.congress needs to keep a choke collar on this fool!

    September 12, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Donnie the Lion

    "He's just one more in a long tradition of dictators and thugs." That's pretty accurate.

    September 12, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. Lucia Kaplan

    We shouldn't take Newt too seriously either. Talk about a thug!

    September 12, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  25. Christopher

    For once I agree with Newt. His assessment of Putin is spot on.

    September 12, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
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