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. randy

    "He expressed doubt the opinion piece was even written by Putin, saying it was likely penned by a Washington speechwriters."
    The above makes no sense.

    September 12, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  2. Timothy

    Yes Newt, and your so honest, that is why your presidency attempts have failed.

    September 12, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  3. Lucia Kaplan

    We shouldn't take Newt too seriously either.

    September 12, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  4. Maximum bob

    Putin is KGB, not used to be. Consider the source, he lies for a living. That's his job, and he's really good at it.

    September 12, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. Why

    That man almost ruined the USA in the 90s and now he is on cnn. Bad cnn. Get rid off him and Piers Morgan. Inwatch BBC now

    September 12, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  6. Openminded American

    Maybe we should show some respect to the leaders of foreign nations if we want to live in a world where they can work together, coherently and efficiently for peace and world prosperity. I am done with all the drama made by these washed out American ex-politicians who have nothing better to do than be negative, propagate xenophobic views, spew their close-mindedness, hinder progress and close the doors into international, diplomatic cooperation.

    September 12, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  7. William Shelton

    Newt Gingrich is the one who shouldn't be taken seriously.

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

    Putin may very well be a lier, or given to poetic license, but that doesn't make him wrong. If a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in a while, a lier can occasionally tell the truth. Although I'm not sure if Dick Cheney ever found an acorn or told the truth.

    September 12, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. bdby

    He's just one more in long tradition of dictators and thugs."

    Good call. I could not have said it better myself. He is just buying time for his thug friend Assad to enable him to move some of his chemical stock to other UNKNOWN locations for future use.

    Just who does Vlad think he is kidding? They are both in Kahoots with each other. If Obama is smart he will not only keep the pressure up but move more assets into the area to show AMERICA MEANS BUSINESS!

    September 12, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  10. There. Are. No. Gods!

    Putin never said he was exceptional, he was responding to comments made by Obama on American exceptionalism and how not only Russia begs to differ, but the world rejects this idea as well. I usually at least respect Newt Gingrich when he has something to say, I may disagree but I have come to accept him as an intelligent man. His statement here negates that feeling and reeks of simple minded trash talk. Now is the time when Americans can step back and realize that the world is not all about the U.S., the rest of the world is speaking up against our "exceptionalism" and maybe it is time to examine our countries inflated ego and join the rest of the planet once our collective heads deflate.

    September 12, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. geurdss

    I found Putin's comments spot on. I think our elitist politicians should take notes, because he schooled them.

    September 12, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  12. john johns

    It makes little difference what the name in politics is Putin, Gingrich, Obama, you are ALL liars. No one respects you nor your opinions. Time and again we are shown how you fleece the populace, flout our laws and all for your personal gain. Nobody has forgotten who you are either Newt..........

    September 12, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. NN

    Gingrich is right on point with this assessment. We need to thank him for articulating a perspective a lot of Americans were struggling with.

    September 12, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  14. Chris M

    Putin a thug? How about Gingrich and his coorporate friends.

    September 12, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. Bill Hennessey

    "stripped to the waste" ? Do the people writing CNN articles even have high school educations?

    September 12, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. mo zuhdi

    I agree, Putin is a dictator and a thug.

    September 12, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  17. Dmitry Melichkin

    Sometimes truth hurts

    September 12, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Typical blowhard. "It's a lie! He is a blah-blah!" What exactly, other than the "exceptional" part is he disputing?

    September 12, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  19. whatever

    PS. Stop scaring us with your KGB garbage. This is not 1969.

    September 12, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    "stripped to the waste" cmon guys... proof-readers please?

    September 12, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. andres

    Say what you will but the truth hurts and Putin was merely pointing out the obvious. For too long the US has had its way in the world, it has fought proxy wars that only serve to deicmate the countries chosen for the proxy war. Proxy wars are nothing short of immoral and if the US did not own the world courts many of our presidents former and current and their henchmen and women would be sitting in the Hauge right now.

    We have waged wars, we have overthrown governments, we have installed our brutal dictators, we have been the arms supplier to the world, we have and continue to practice financial terroism through the World Bank and the IMF. As an American I know we can be much better but the bitter truth is that we are no better than those we have been condemming.

    September 12, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. Gary Phillips

    WOW! I'm a conservative but even I have a hard time believing Gingrich has the nerve to call "anyone" a liar. He has always been one of the most crooked republicans around but never seems to have to be accountable for his actions. Wow, the nerve.

    September 12, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  23. donald

    newt needs to get a life.

    September 12, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  24. nomad

    Actually it's Newt that I have never taken serious.

    September 12, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Gingrich: Aren't you the guy that when you learned that your wife had cancer, you divorced her?

    September 12, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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