April 20th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
12 years ago

Gingrich: Obama-Chavez exchange will become propaganda

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/20/art.gingrich.gi.jpg caption=" 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. Pete

    "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"

    Like the GOP?

    April 20, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. Dennis in Chicagoland

    "Shallowness"? No, acting like grown-ups...not bullies.

    April 20, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. Glen in Los Angeles

    Another attempt by the losing team to find a talking point that sticks with the American public. I don't think this will end up being much of an issue unless gas prices take a dive. Then Gingrich will be sorry he made an issue of it come the mid-term elections.

    April 20, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. Samuel

    What I find odd is that Newt thinks he's important in the world of politics instead of a whiny has-been who packed up his toys and went home when Clinton's administration was doing such a good job and Newt kept trying to go against it.

    April 20, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. mtv

    And that is just the reason why Grinwich and the others are not in charge..............if they can't make peace.......far be it correct for Obama to try and make peace with nations and end wars...........GOP Please Go Away some where and Suck your Thumbs

    April 20, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Scott from St. Charles

    Gingrich is a washed up hack who is out of touch with the real world. He would have us continue outdated policies of 60 years ago just because he can't come up with any real answers to these problems. Time for him and the GOP to wake up, the world is no longer playing by their rules.

    April 20, 2009 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. RJN

    Our presidential comrade has started with the behavior I feared. You hug him today and Chavez will be vacationing in South Beach by the end of the month.
    We need to separate diplomacy with reality. One hug and his book is now #2 in the best seller. The change we are going to get is having the communist enter our country and dictate how to run the country. Hasn't any president learned anything over the years, you give them a finger and they take your soul!!!!!!

    April 20, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. Adam

    These republicans are getting very pathetic in thier attempts to find anything to make obama look like he is endangering the US. O NO, he shook hands with another leader. republicans see this as weakness, the rest of the world sees it as a sign of respect and trying to work out our differences with the rest of the world. The republicans are going to continuing losing ground if they keep focusing on condeming everything that Obama does and not come up with actions of their own.

    April 20, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. Sue - OH

    Why are you giving Newt airtime? He was disgraced with ethics violations and had to pay over $300,000 in fines. This man is not trustworthy

    April 20, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  10. zak

    Why does Newt even open his mouth? Hasn't he realized nobody is listening?

    Hating the world and having horrible relations with everyone does not help anybody, regardless of their how they rule. Shunning people and forcing restrictions on countries/leaders we disagree with does not change what they're doing or even encourage them to change. Feel free to take a note from history if you disagree; North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, etc...nothing has changed with these countries regardless of how stern we are with them, so the strong man act obviously does not work, nor do Newts stupid comments.

    April 20, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. Steve

    What I find distressing is the continual negativity and single response: NO. The strategy to walk loudly, self-righteously, angrily, and threateningly while carrying a gigantic stick wielded willy-nilly, and the solution to every problem under the sun being cutting taxes, and invading countries with long-term war on our mind....clearly haven't worked and never will.

    The world has moved forward, and changed. The Repubs need to take of their blinders, come up with something better than personal, and political attacks and develop substantive ideas to help ALL Americans, not just the most wealthy. Because they're stuck in the 20th century, and have nothing positive, energizing, hopeful, or even workable to offer, they will remain the party that wishes it had a brain, a heart, and a purpose.

    April 20, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Here goes the GOP bickering. The President was careful when addressing Venezuela. He admitted that Chavez has made inflammatory remarks. So what! The remarks were about Dubya being the devil. I don't think he was off that much when he made that statement. People need to stop criticizing everything the President does. He needs to tarnish the bad image of America and reach out to people who aren't necessarily our friends. Give it a break already Right Wing.

    April 20, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  13. Irma in North Carolina

    Newt have you been talking to Rush, Colter and Ingram again. Instead of making all these negative comments you could say something good about the way the president handled the pirate situation. The only way the republicans will ever win an election or get Sarah in there if Alaska drops out of the union. That way the alaska people could have her for their president.

    April 20, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. last honest man

    Can a President be recalled. At some point some of the idiots who voted for this chump are going to realize .....oooops ......I was wrong.

    April 20, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  15. Dave

    This is too easy, Newt. Of course it will be used as propaganda by our enemies, first being the entire team at Fox News Channel, followed by Rush Limbaugh and every right wing blogger you can think of. Of course, CNN will be there asking the question, "will our enemies use this as propaganda?" as if that's any different than just saying, "our enemies will use this." Wake up, media, you are being played by the right like Yo Yo Ma would play the cello.

    April 20, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. Ken Stokes

    It'll certainly be used as propaganda by some people who want this government to fail...

    April 20, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Whateva

    This is just insane!

    April 20, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. Eric

    Newt, Newt , Newt. I love ya man but you are oh so trasparent on your stepped up critisism of the current and almost brand new adminstration. You are not such a shallow analyst when you are NOT running for office.

    April 20, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. mel

    I dont look at this as a negative gesture. If it can bring peace throughout the world, that's more important to me.

    April 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  20. Andy in Texas

    Go away, Newt. I haven't heard from you in about ten years, and now you show up everywhere and, coincidentally, are always criticizing Obama. It is clear that you are now campaigning for president and that you will say and do anything to get elected.

    April 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  21. Julian

    Yes yes we know. Sing it all together conservatives....Obama...BADDDD! The GOP response to everything. Did Reagan shake hands with sworn enemies of the US? No doubt he did...but the mindless relentless criticism of the President is the sum total of what passes for GOP political ideas these days. Check the polls Newt..how's that working for ya.

    April 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. Dan

    Gingrich would know about propaganda.

    April 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  23. Enlightened Voter

    Oh, you mean like "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" ?

    April 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. David


    You're right about it becoming propaganda, you're just wrong about who's using it.

    That is, unless you think the Republican party is an enemy of the United States....

    April 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  25. steve

    Another heavy handed dictator is legitimized by our new president.

    April 20, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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