September 12th, 2013
07:40 PM ET
1 year 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. TexasR

    He is a dictator and a thug, and he makes our guy look like an idiot. It's like watching Lucy pull the ball away from Charlie Brown.

    September 13, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. J

    Bob

    Putin is a better American than Obama!

    --------

    I hear it's nice in Russia right now. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Enjoy your freedoms once you get there.

    September 13, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Not to worry, the republican presidential ticket for 2016 (Putin/Assad) will only carry the red states. "Commies first," cry the right wingnuts!

    September 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. rs

    The TEA Party is full of dictators and thugs (hello, Mr. Cruz?)... so what?

    September 13, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Name

    How does it makes him a dectator when he wants piece in the World?
    We need to stop being so aggressive against other countries and their leaders. Find pieceful way to deal with conflicts!
    ---------------------–
    Dictators throw people in jail who expressing dissenting opinions about them. Dictators like to prop up support other dictatorships. Dictators fire on unarmed protestors, which Gingrich cited in the article.

    What acts of aggression are you talking about? Hmm? You're talking complete, utter nonsense when you complain about we need to stop being "so aggressive against other countries" and their leaders because we *have not* been aggressive against other countries and their leaders.

    September 13, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Roger

    Way to go Newt. Don't always agree with his position on politics, but do on this matter.

    September 13, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. Walt

    I like how American think they're the only people on the planet. I'm no fan of Putin or Gingrich but Americans need to wake up and accept they not number one any more. Not even close. World opinion is very anti American because of years of self righteousness by it's people and politicians. Syria is only a symptom that many are ignoring. America has lost credibility with the rest of the world. Many of it's own people know it but the politicians have seemingly missed it. As much as we may loath Putin his statements have Americans noticing that their lame administration is fumbling and directionless.

    September 13, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Tampa Tim: "After reading the love comments from right wingnuts towards Putin, it means the new GOP motto should be,"Commies First."

    To be fair, Putin's running neck to neck with Calgary Cruz.

    September 13, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. Howard

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

    Put aside the person who made that statement and just look at the words themselves. Is their message so wrong? As a Russian who grew up being schooled on the horrors his country endured in The Great Patriotic War, he no doubt realizes that war was started by a European neighbor whose people had been brainwashed into think they were exceptional, a master race, in fact.

    September 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. Jim

    It is such a shame that CNN has given Gingrinch a new venue to spew his toxic brand of vitriol and hate speech in foreign and domestic affairs. I had hoped he would simply go away once his own party made it clear they no longer wanted him. Now CNN is trying even harder to appear the most "fair and balanced" by showcasing this venomous charlatan. What's going on CNN?

    September 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Goony

    Newt tells it like it is. Would have been a better president than current occupant.

    September 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. deathstalker

    No no no, all in the Federal Government are enemies of the American people! Stop spying on us!!! We are your Boss!!! Anyone involved in Federal Government in the last decade should be in Prison!!! I am so sick of these people who live High on the Hog while we work our butts off!!! Prison!!! They have violated our Constitution and our rights given to us by God! Not you corrupt child molesting murdering lying evil doers! Putin is trying to help the American people. This terrorism fear has to stop and the Media needs to do it's job and stop being run by the State! Why doesn't CNN ask an ordinary american citizen what they think instead of these worthless politicians! They don't even write their own words. The next elections they are all fired! But I say put them in Prison so they can drop the soap and get you know what!

    September 13, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Davo

    Nice to see Newt unintentionally sticking up for Big O.

    September 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Dan

    I have a feeling Gingrich would have approved without Putin"s exceptional comment.

    September 13, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. Tony

    If people think that Putin won because he proposed that Syria, Russia's ally, gives up its chemical weapons before the UN issues its report on Syria's suspected chemical attack and before Obama fires a missile at Syria, Obama should let Putin win all day. If a guy offers a concession to you first, you can let him think that he won. Say, Republicans, you should tell Boehner that he can win the coming budget showdown by offering Obama a concession first. Obama will let you win all day.

    September 13, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    TexasR

    He is a dictator and a thug, and he makes our guy look like an idiot. It's like watching Lucy pull the ball away from Charlie Brown.
    ----------------------–
    Keep on believing that, okay? Syria has always been Russia's problem from the start. The Russians have their one and only warm water naval base on the Syrian coastline. It was becoming apparent that Pres. Obama was serious about taking military action against Syria, which meant that lone naval base would be in the center of a war zone. Cruise missles would have sailing overhead, heading for inland targets. Putin found that unacceptable and realized that Russia had to solve its' own mess in Syria.

    September 13, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Am a nigerian, but i like american people.Americans listen very attentively.putin is a man who has denied americans civilians the right to adopt russian children,there by hurting american women.but the same putin wants americans to believe him in what he says about syria.the same putin talked bad about america's exceptionalism.

    September 13, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. rs

    "No no no, all in the Federal Government are enemies of the American people!"
    ___________________________________
    Well, that's certianly a patriotic statement!

    September 13, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. rs

    Goony

    Newt tells it like it is. Would have been a better president than current occupant.
    ______________________________________
    And ANOTHER very patriotic statement! Do you guys listen to yourselves before you post, because right now you're real close to being anti-American... although that's no surprise from the Right these days.

    September 13, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. strangewalk

    Gingrich has American professional politician class style–unlike the Chinese knock-offs available to average people, he has a real Swiss made watch, a genuine Italian made suit, and a swelling investment portfolio, instead of food stamps. Such perks come easily to those for sale to the highest bidder, whether to the business elites who outsourced America's industrial base for their own selfish gain (and in the process wiped out untold millions of US jobs), or to the financial elites who raped the US treasury for their sole benefit (and in the process condemned America's future generations). Now he's at bat for the big oil elites and we can only wait for what happens with that.

    September 13, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. Wake up People!

    Great comments rs!! I always enjoy reading them!!

    September 13, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. joshua

    The Bear of Daniel has risen and will defeat the west and china will come to power revelation 21. Why? Usa gov has walked away from God. See dr owour massive earthquake coming to USA. Is the usa gov doing something about this??

    September 13, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Tony

    Republicans have been calling Obama a communist for years. It turns out that Republicans actually like communists.

    September 13, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Winston Smith

    Wow! How we can point fingers. If this cretin were president, we'd be in a war with Canada.

    September 13, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tony

    Republicans have been calling Obama a communist for years. It turns out that Republicans actually like communists.
    -------------------------------------------------
    How about that?!

    September 13, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16