April 20th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
14 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. Ryan

    I agree, it will clearly be used as propaganda...

    By out-of-touch Republican "leaders" like Mr. Gingrinch.

    April 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. dee-dee

    Last man standing!!!

    I assumed the same way people who voted for bush went OOPS'
    when he made a mess of the economy.
    Give the guy a chance. Hejust srarted and have a long way to go.
    We give bush 8 years and not one Republican stood up to him.

    April 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Dawn

    I think it was horribly irresponsible for the prior Administration to thumb it's nose at the entire world. President Obama is trying to fix what Bush broke and it will take a lot more than just shaking hands.

    April 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. Nancy - Houston

    Gringich says "there is a shallowness with how the Obama administration analyzes things. " I say there is a "hatefullness with how the Republicans analyze things," and they seem to want to keep the hate going. Perhaps the president is following the saying "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Now, wouldn't it be better and for the greater good if, in the future, we could possibly refer to our enemies for years and years as our "former" enemies? We can only hope.

    April 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Barry

    Being humble isn’t always sign of weakness. What put Newt Gingrich over the top is the book that Mr. Chavez gave to Mr. Obama: Gingrich’s writings never achieved over night success, and he is just plain jealous.

    Anything to divert attention away from George Bush’s strict adherence to modern day Republican ideology. Namely, lower taxes for the wealthy (to create jobs for the poor, via trickle down) increased military spending, less intrusiveness of government in business, fewer environmental restrictions, etc. Bush gave the modern conservative Republicans everything they wanted, and they still don’t like him.

    April 20, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Chris - Denver

    So this is what the GOP is reduced to? Slaming Obama for shaking the man's hand? What should Obama have done? Hold out his hand and then withdraw it at the last secong, slicking back his hair and saying, "too slow?" Republicans need to grow up.

    April 20, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. johnny

    It's already being used as propagand by Newt and other GOP losers.

    April 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. debbie

    Nixon went to China. Reagan made friends with Gorby...these are good things. Nothing wrong with talking to a perceived enemy...what's the saying about holding your enemies close? Duh. Stupid GOP – don't you realize every time you open your dumb mouths and jump on things like this you sound petty and mean? That speaks volumes about the people who follow you, I guess.

    April 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Mark-Atlanta

    So party of NO has nothing better to do but analyze and commenting the photos of our President. Party of NO is becoming party of totally frustrated looser who can only whine and whine and whine… How’s about GOP benefit us with some smart ideas instead of crying about Obama all the time?!

    April 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Cblue4ever

    President Obama is our duly elected President. The Republicans might as well face the facts. If Obama wants to continue his "America Sucks" tour in Europe and Latin America and cozy up to the Worlds Dictators, then that is his choice and the choice that a majority if Americans made when they elected him. We can only hope that they will wake up during the next election and return some sanity and balance to Congress so he doesn't have a blank check to run this country like Chavez runs Venezeula.

    April 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  11. MissyRiver

    I don't think Chavez is anti-american, I think he is anti-Bush.

    April 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Neiki

    Oh my! Our President is actually speaking to those who don't like us very well. How do we as a nation intend to breech the gap of distrust of America if our President doesn't make one-to-one contact & show respect for people as people in power. He doesn't have to agree with their policies (& like it or not, other countries do not have to like or agree with America's policies either) but he can still show respect to earn respect. Way to go Mr. President!! The real Americans appreciate you transparency & respectfulness to other nations.

    April 20, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Anonymous

    For everything that President Obama does, no matter how good it is. there will always be a critics. One can never please them all. But it is very smart for President Obama to reached out to the other leaders. This friendly relationships may be more benificial to the country in the long run. It is not wise to have too many enemies, unless it is absolutely necessary or unavoidable.

    April 20, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Victor from CT

    How dare the Republicans talk as if what they've done for years has done any good to the American people!!! Let our President to his job! he's doing a fine job so far and we do not to be enemies with the rest of the world! Look what the Republicans did by creating enemies aroud the world. Isn't 9/11 enough????????

    April 20, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Elizabeth Martin

    Many Americans claim that we are, or should be, a Christian nation, while seeming to forget that Jesus commanded us to "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you." I do not see how we can be followers of Jesus unless we live as He lived. Our Lord and Savior did not kill his enemies; He prayed for them and even died for them.

    April 20, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. johnrj08

    There is no question that Hugo Chavez is personally responsible for the terrible suffering of tens of thousands of Venezuelans. He's a classic South American dictator. However, to say that President Obama's contact with Chavez will result in more suffering in that country is ridiculous. It simply doesn't follow. If anything, a better or at least less hostile relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela can only give those people some hope. Newt Gringrich's thinking is entrenched in mid-20th century politics and ideologically driven perceptions. Like George W. Bush, his own personal agenda and beliefs distort what the world is really like in his process of rationalizing his world view. Thank God the voters in this country walked away from that mindset in the last election.

    April 20, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Scott

    The only enemies of the US that are going to use this are the Republicans.

    April 20, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. Dave

    Newt's memory is pretty short. He seems to be forgetting that Bush also shook hands with Chavez. And the entire Bush family is practically in bed with the Saudi royal family. How would you like to explain that one Newt?

    April 20, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. louee

    And we care about what Gingrich says, why? He and his party are no model for this new president to follow. We have to make progress in our international relationships, and refusal of civility is no way to begin this process. Why doesn't Gingrich just go away?

    April 20, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. Carl

    Newt needs to retire. His point is mute. Obama is working to restore Americas greatness. No matter what Obama does, the Repubs will say he is a failure. Atleast he is willing to reach out and let the world know we are the leader we say we are.


    April 20, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. JURONE

    LOOK at gingrich face on this link a picture says a thousand words anger and a lots more dem or rep respect is respect give it you you get i think the people have lost respect for you mr gingrich let mr obama do his job you had you chance and you lost you respect .

    April 20, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. Matthew Gomez

    This is ridiculous! Although Chávez may indeed be a human rights violator and Venezuela is having a number of problems, just because you shake the hand of a man, does not mean you are bowing down to him like he is a God. Gingrich needs to do some fact checking for himself, considering that most of Latin America, although they may disagree with Chávez on certain issues, do believe he is a legitimate leader, and if President Obama did act like Gingrich wanted him too, the U.S. would again become a scapegoat and give the ammunation Chávez needs.
    Look what happened under the Bush presidency; he kept saying this and this (starting a war no one wanted, having prisoners tortured in Guantanamo, etc.) and Bush became the best scapegoat to blame the problems by leaders such as Chávez, Morales, and Ortega, and the United States became the place people in Latin America did not like. Not to mention the fact that Bush and Chávez may have yelled about each other right and left, but even under Bush, Venezuelan oil continued to come to the U.S. like no other. Now, under President Obama, the U.S. has began to regain its respect in the region, and leaders such as Chávez have not been able to blame the U.S. as much for the region's problems.

    April 20, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. tim

    The republican party is becoming to party of "hate" and the party of "no".

    At least Obama is doing something, rather than sitting on his hands and not engaging his enemies. Its better to engage your enemies and understand them rather than let then run like loose cannons and except the world to fix itself. This was the same mindset witht he economy for the past eight years... sit on your hands!

    April 20, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. Fran

    Let's face it the same ole' has not worked. In fact, it has isolated the U.S. further. Time for a new start. I do believe in keeping enemies closer. Contrary to critic's way of thinking that Obama is naive, I believe they are naive. One needs to ask How has what they have been doing working for them? The answer is clearly not well.

    April 20, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. SJ

    Of course it will become propagnda. The Republicans are desperate for anything they can use to smear Obama. They keep trying to create issues, but no one is listening. Newt and his sheep are wandering aimlessly with no shepard, in the desert of negativity and fear, with no idea of where to go next. 2012 will give them direction.....out the door, and into the unemployment line with the rest of us.

    April 20, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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