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. Vlad

    The problem with republicans is that they seem to think that everyone is out to get them. Get over it!

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. SRB

    isn't the saying " keep your friends close but your enemies even closer" a good thing Newt ? Why is this a bad thing. Lets see– they have oil, we need oil. We need to save face through out the world, this builds our reputation. The GOP has to stop trying to find flaws and deal with their larger bad image. This isn't bad. Besides what is Venezuela a hot spot of terrorists, OMG Newt. This was one of the guys that Bush didn't like because Chavez openly bashed Bush. The days of " Axis of Evil" are done. I am tied of the GOP and there fine line of using this terror threat as a means of scaring the american public. Chavez just said what alot of world leaders had thought. Had Tony Blair said this would he have been seen as a threat ?

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. trevor weir

    Newt, it is time to shut up and go back to the farm. You like to shower us with you fears. You stupid old republicans are all alike. Show your hate to everyone who you disagree with, show your arrogance to those who disagree with you and bully those who think differently.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. Jim

    More tired and nonsensical Republican whining... yada, yada, yada...

    Stay tuned for even more pointless inanity as the former Party of Lincoln morphs from it's current status as the Party of No into the Party of Carping Lackwits.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. A Sailor

    Mr. Obama's cordial exchange with Hugo Chavez does nothing to harm the United States' image. If it has done anything, it has shown the world that the leader of the most powerful nation on earth possesses the capability to pass up the opportunity to engage in a battle of bitter words that do nothing but promote animosity. Instead, he [Mr. Obama] has once again taken the high road, which is continually gaining respect of other nations around the globe and continues to separate the United States from hate and warmongering nations as well as our very own bitter Republican party.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  6. alvino

    Newt wants to bring back the "Cowboy Diplomacy" that proved to be so successful the last 8 years. Newt is like a boy in a bubble and wants us isolated from the rest of the world. Nixon visited China, but Obama cannot be in the same room with the other leaders of the Americas.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. daunt

    I'm not very smart, but is Chavez not the only indigenous leader of the Americas. Maybe that's why Newt is so upset.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  8. Average Joe

    I think they may be blowing the whole thing out of proportion. I've known countless Americans who have called Bush hating names, so why should Chavez get all the heat? Besides, we can't control who Obama talks with- that's up to him. Isn't it a good thing that two hating nations were laughing with each other, or am I missing something? I didn't hear reports of Obama being threated, except by a few radicals who truly think Obama will destroy America.

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. Roger

    How can anybody in their right mind believe or even think that just because our president is respectful enough to shake another elected leaders hand or talk with him regardless of what or who he is or what he has said.....is doing something wrong have got to be either out of their mind or a true wacko...this is about as silly as the tea parties....the GOP set back & let GW spend spend spend go to war with 2 countries do all his silly crap & not one tea party....this is just another example of the GOP being two faced.....

    April 20, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. Andi

    wow. what a shocker.

    Newtie criticizing the Prez.


    You are getting more people to join the GOP, you are merely emboldening the extreme nut whacks of your party. Not the people you really want as your poster children. Most people (including current members of the Rep. party) think you are nuts.

    April 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  11. Mia

    What did you expect President Obama to do. Chavez approached President Obama and shook his hand.

    April 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. David

    This administration is so naive. They think it's okay to be friends with a Anti-American dictator.

    The rest of the world is laughing at us. Obama has made me ashamed to be an American.

    April 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  13. Recovering Republican

    I'm done with a bunch of OLD, WHITE, GRAY HAIRED, wind bags telling me what I should be afraid of. These guys are what I'm really afraid of. Their policy of "because America said so....." is why the world hates us.

    April 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. Marge

    And so it goes...the republicans who have proven that bush's type of diplomacy did not work, cant' stand the fact that obama might be able to improve our image and to get countries to work with us.

    So the whine and they moan thinking this country believes anything they say. SHUT UP PARTY OF NO...

    April 20, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Joe - Chicago

    i'd be more worried about the exchange if Gingrich said it was a good thing.

    April 20, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. sd

    didnt bush shake his hand?

    April 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. Dimples

    What does Gingrich and Ensign know? They know how to criticize. Grumpy old Gingrich is at it again. That's exactly what I expect from a bitter old jealous man. You are entitled to your opinion and so am I. You 're wrong again and President Obama is right to brush aside your criticism. Newt, what will you say when you realize you got it all wrong?

    April 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. tayo onifade

    What about Rumsfield shaking hands with Saddam Hussein?

    Republicans have a short memory, and their penchant for false indignation is disturbing.

    April 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I can hear Sarah Palin's devisive rhetoric now.

    "He's palling around with Hugo."

    April 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. LCK

    How will we ever be able to get along with others in the world if we can't even look them in the eye and shake their hand. How will we ever change anyone's opinion of us if we can't, at the very least, say hello. It's time to leave the old world of taking our ball and going home when people don't play our way or say ugly things to us. Saying hello does not equal capitulation. Chavez, while bombastic and overbearing, is the leader of Venezuala. Gingrich is bombastic and overbearing and not the leader of anything.

    April 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Ashish

    So sad that GOP hasn't learned a lesson. It seems that just do not understand meaning of the word diplomacy. All they know is war and bomb. Seems they have some real brain issue.

    April 20, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. Erik

    Haha, more like propaganda for the Republican Party, but I could see how the two could be confused.

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. Corwin7

    "enemies of America are going to use the picture..." Pretty much like your using it right now eh Newt?

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Art Symmes

    More Republican BS rhetoric...apparently it is OK with Republicans for us to have "free and open" relationships with the Communist governments of China and Vietnam; but not our neighbors in Latin America (i.e., Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia)...pure craziness – dare I say silliness...the only way we are ever going to have a truly peaceful world is when we can talk (and trade) openly with those that hold a difference of philosophy; at some point Republicans such as Mr. Gingrich need to come to terms with this notion...

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. Renee

    The GOP is the party of you aren't one of us so we must shun you and everyone like you. They really think that THAT is the way to exact change in the world. Develop an exclusive club and only allow groups in that think like you do. Sounds like a high school clique.

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
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