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. Connie Sturgeon

    At least Chavez gave free heating oil to American's when they were hurting, Gingrich and his party did what ? They gave big profits to their oil rich friends.For President Obama and the next election I am hoping Gingrich and Palin run together, Obama will be a shoe in.

    April 20, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Ted:Canada

    Obama is on the right track!

    This is a very smart president who knows how to protect Amercia.

    The Republicans are out of touch – old and basically stupid...nothing personal – get a life it's OVER!

    Wake up! It is the 21st century!

    April 20, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  3. gary

    newt is right. the meeting is being used for republican propaganda.

    April 20, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. Melissa

    Not anti american – but anti BUSH.. difference

    April 20, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. Joe in NJ

    Obama continues his apologist tour making America look bad in the process.

    April 20, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. Josh

    The Republican approach to Chavez has been to engage in hostile rhetoric while doing nothing to reduce U.S. dependance on oil, Chavez' source of power.

    Obama is working to reduce U.S. dependance on oil while engaging, but not catering to, Chavez.

    In my opinion, the latter approach has a far better chance of getting results than the former.

    April 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. Carol Felcoski

    Is there anything the Republicans won't criticize!

    April 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "that Chavez is now legitimate that he is acceptable"

    Newsflash: Chavez was elected and Gingrich sounds like a complete retard claiming that a simple handshake/greeting is some giant foreign relations debacle.

    Musharef, the GOP and Bush administration's favorite despot, however, was not. He was in power via military coup. Does the hypocrisy of the GOP know no bounds? Gingrich should give it up...his soundbite fever is just hurting them (and his chances of a 2012 run). The GOP is making mountains from molehills while meandering around the mulberry bush.

    April 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. tess

    for many who continue to underestimate newts brilliance and depth on all subjects they do so at their own peril! the contract with america was dismissed by the media, but the results were staggering – his appraisal that o'bama lacks debth is right on! time will show who is right on these issues and i'm on newt's side!!!!!!

    April 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. Hopeful Optimist

    Hey Repubs, its not working - this constant barrage of whining on your part. Its just like Obama says, he doesn't have to worry about the politics of what he does based on how he campaigned and how he was elected. So enough already !!!

    April 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  11. StevenAK

    Noone elected Newt. He is irrelevant and his policies and ideology are backward. He cheerleaded the Iraq invasion and somehow thinks a handshake will affect people's feelings but dropping bombs will not. He is an idiot and an adulterer.

    April 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Nancy

    People leave President Obama alone, he is doing a very good.

    April 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. Gloria

    Newt..go back into your cave...your argument is totally without merit.

    April 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. John from Long Island NY

    This is such a NON story and Gingrich is a fool. First off Chavez has been President of Venezuala for 7 years, he's known throughout South America as the democratically elected leader of that Oil producing country so the notion that Obama being photographed shaking his hand, somehow lends Chavez legitimachy, is dumb and designed to appeal to the under-educated and uninformed. Obama shaking his hand and being cordial with him, during a DIPLOMATIC function is not the sign of a weak leader, rather a very Smart and Savvy one. Teddy Roosevelt spoke at the turn of the last century of the priciple of the carrot and the stick- for the last eight years we has an administration that only knew how to brandish the stick which I believe almost everyone can agree has ultimatly proved to be unsuccessful. Obama is trying to use the carrot and change the image of this nation from one which, under Bush/Cheney was almost universally negative, to one in which the United States is strong enough and confident enough that not only are we willing to talk to our friends and allies, but also talk with those nations which we dissagree with. Also, aren't there pictures of Bush walking, holding hands with the King of Saudi Arabia, like he's the King's girlfriend? Just because the Saudie Royal Family pumped millions of dollars in Bush Senior's and Bush Junior's campaign coffers doesn't mean that they BOUGHT this country's energy policy, right?

    April 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. David

    Please run for President in 2012 Newt, we need more fear and old politics, that's the GOP way.....

    April 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. TK

    It's a shame that the GOP will cry like big babys about everything that Obama does. Graw the hell up!!!

    April 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Desmond

    Here's the "Gingrich" trying to steal "Christmas" again, along with that "ensignia" guy for the GOP. I am not red nor blue nor even US, but really is this the best that the repubs have to offer for World Peace and economic recovery and national and international security?????
    Indeed, Meghan McCain is the only real challenge to the Democrats!!!

    April 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. Anonymous

    The more this man does, the more I worry about this country! I cannot believe how he sucks up to terrorists, communists and oppressers! How about he just keep his you-know-what in this country and fix the problems here rather than running all over the globe, at taxpayers' expense I might add. Now that the muslim extremists know the CIA's methodology, we're even less safe. We have become a nation of jokes , thanks to "that one" you koolaid drinking, non-taxpaying, bleeding heart liberals!

    April 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. AustHall

    This guy has got some real issues. No wonder the Republicans are leaderless and falling of the screen

    April 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    If this has-been blowhard is a "high profile Republican" then that party is fading fast.

    April 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. concerned Dem

    Look at Newt's face, that's a sourpuss if ever I saw one. He is still preaching that fear BS imposed by the GOP. Get over it Mr. Salamander, America is too smart for that crap now.

    April 20, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. John in Ohio

    This just in, Republicans find reason to criticize Democrats. Nothing like manufactured controversy and outrage.

    April 20, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  23. Sam Sixpack

    Those whiny GOP dorks just don't appreciate dictators. TV is all that matters - and dictators look good on their own TV shows. Dictators prove that everyone is much happier when news is censored by the state and detractors are imprisoned.

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  24. Mark

    Why is this guy still in the news?

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  25. Lilli

    Mr. Obama's brushing aside of anyone who is rightfully critical of him is dangerously arrogant and his lack of political savvy in these recent foreign leader mis-haps is startling.

    April 20, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
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