September 12th, 2013
07:40 PM ET
7 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. david

    Gingrich! when can we count on you to retire from the media because nobody cares one little bit what you think. when i see your face on CNN i turn the channel just as fast as i can. you seem to have a real problem with any kind of respect for the peoples choice for president unless they want to kiss your behind. you really think your smart but i got to tell you if you loose anymore IQ points we will have to start watering you! you will become a new plant called ideology only! maybe you need a new women on the side to take up your time with your good at that only!!!!!!

    September 12, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. Dennis O'Hagan

    Perhaps a better question is "why should CNN viewers take Newt Gingrich seriously?" This guys is a joke, from ethics issues to abandoning a dying wife, this guy has zero credibility and CNN has sunk a few more levels by putting this schmuck on Crossfire.

    September 12, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. sgompers

    My goodness how could anybody take Newt with a straight face . He's a parody of himself

    September 12, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. Tenie

    He may be all that but he's very successful at yanking obama's chain. Hilarious to watch.

    September 12, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. Chris

    Putin played his hand well, exceptionally well in fact, but anyone that believes any of this will solve anything is nutty. "Hope" is not a strategy but I guess Optimism is blind. I totally agree with the President's original plan for military intervention but it was handled worse than anything I can remember in my lifetime.

    September 12, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Cascade

    I have a new respect for Gingrich. As an American who was born in Eastern Europe, I fully agree with his statements regarding Putin. Anyone who lives in the region or the former Soviet Union knows Vladimir Putin is not genuine, but in fact nothing more than a liar and a ruthless dictator. His simple goal here is to ridicule the United States as much as possible and to gain the upper hand over Syria.

    What was the last thing that he did? Other than the KGB style killings and strong military style repression against opposition, blatant lies, invading and occupying sovereign nations, or murdering hundreds of thousands of people who were his own Russian citizens, caught between Putin's rag tag army of convicted rapists and small Chechen extremist groups?

    Oh yeah, the last thing he just did was make being gay in Russia illegal....you know, as in against the law to be born a certain way.

    September 12, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  7. MJH

    my sentiments exactly, he is a thug and a tirent, who imprisons people for voicing an opinion, and also fixed several elections to make sure he got elected

    September 12, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. Matt Norris

    Gingrich, of course, isn't putting Putin's views of U.S. foreign policy into the context of incidents during the Reagan administration that remain classified.

    Those involve handing chemical weapons to Iraq, and then classifying the information about what companies provided them and the U.S. role in what is said to be "assisting in targeting" Iranians. Gingrich has no business being on Crossfire if this is the best he can do, because he is now officially outclassed by matter of available information.

    September 12, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. Oliver

    Newt Gingrich is an amoral clown. Why is opinion on anything considered relevant?

    September 12, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. Grafted Olive Branch

    I typically give ear to what Gingrich has to say, but I think he has taken his remarks against Mr. Putin too far. I see Mr. Putin as a Peace Maker in this present situation. He should be afforded that respect. Sure he has his own motivations and interests, but what he is doing for the USA is far better than the USA dropping bombs on Syria with no real purpose other than punishment. I say lighten up on criticism of Mr Putin.

    September 12, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  11. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    You're probably right Newt. It takes one to know one, eh? (Except Putin isn't just a wannabe, like you...)

    September 12, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  12. Luke Evans

    you guys are going really low this time. what a bunch of propaganda...

    September 12, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  13. itistimeto

    if anyone knows a liar it is Newt Gingrich and obama. the entire US government is ful of liars.

    September 12, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  14. Bob

    OH NO. A Republish, Obama hater, conservative who disagrees with all the GOP commenters about Putin tell me it isn't so. God there is hope for the low IQ masses. (not enough to win an election however),

    September 12, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  15. nobull4u

    Normally I'm not a fan of Newt Gingrich, but I think he has this one spot-on.

    September 12, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  16. MICHAEL WHITE

    Does anyone here really think the U.S. hasn't caused enough problems in the world already? It's high time for the U.S. to quit playing world policeman. Additionally, people, don't believe this non-sense about Syrian President Assad using chemical weapons recently in Syria. He has been under the microscope and knows such actions would jeopardize his gains in the conflict. That would be like a thief trying to rob a bank knowing police are watching him. It doesn't make sense. I smell a rat and a conspiracy. Remember Iraq, everyone!

    September 12, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. blackarow008

    Really? a Thug? a Dictator? Wow.... Have these idiots even read what Putin wrote? He wasn't being a jerk, he was being sincere and asking for caution, not violence. I don't think Putin's a great guy, and yes, he does have issues, but hes also the head of state of a powerful ally.

    Politicians like Newt make us look like a bunch of idiot dictators ourselves. Putin extends an olive branch and we call him names. Go read the actual article before you pass judgment on Putin.

    September 12, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  18. DJ Reality

    I agree with Newt. How on did I say that? Yes, Putin is a thug....

    September 12, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  19. Thinkong Aloud

    OK Newt that was good. What you are saying is we don't have to respect what you say either?

    September 12, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. Mike S

    Err... It's funny to see CNN using Gingrich to vouch for America. I guess Obama and none of the Democrats can do it themselves. tsk tsk.

    September 12, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. Logik

    Says the Liar and the Thug

    September 12, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  22. mike

    Newt Gingrich knows a lie with he sees one. Probably because of all the experience he has liying to his ex wife while he is cheating on them. How is Gingrich and what he think even relevant to anything

    September 12, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. Bert974

    Amerika the warmaker.

    September 12, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  24. Peter

    I don't always agree with Newt, but on this point, he is spot on. Putin is a manipulative thug.

    September 12, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  25. Black Dynamite

    But we should take Gingrich seriously?
    Good luck with that.....
    BD

    September 12, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
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