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. Mike

    Newt Gingrich is a washed up has been. Anything from him is not news worthy and hasn't been for many years. As a statesman and the President of the US, President Obama has to be cordial and freindly to all. Get a life Nut I mean Newt.

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. Sam Sixpack

    Lets not stop here, we can also let our violent offenders out of prison and "love" them into becoming happy, productive citizens.

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

    It is really getting very pathetic the way OUR PRESIDENT is criticised in everything that he does...first it was said he wasn't moving quick enough working on the economy then after he took steps to work on our economy it was said he was moving to quick, then it was complained that he was taking the economy to lighly then it was complained he was too gloomy about the economy; it's like dmned if he do and dmned if he don't; WAKE UP AMERICA...A COUNTRY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT SURVIVE. How can President Obama get cooperation from other countries for our good when his fellow lawmakers will not cooperate with him in anything.

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Bill in Austin

    Why do all the spokesmen and women for the GOP sound like a bunch of neocons? The bullying tactics of the past 8 years have not worked. I can't figure out why they are so mean, not only to the opposition, but to members of their own party (McCain 2000). What part of civil discourse do they not understand?

    It is so nice to have an adult running the country and the White House. Send the schoolyard thugs home.

    April 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. Dave

    This is what is called diplomacy. Something sorely lacking in the last eight years. It was a handshake and a smile. Get over it. This is what is called acting presidential. Something the last administration never, ever understood.

    April 20, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Deborah

    So... what do you want President Obama to do... you're at a table of leaders and the majority of the people of that country loves you more than their President. That president gives you ar present... You take the present. You may throw it away.. But you take the present and keep going..

    Be Diplomatic But be Cautious.. Thats what Obama is doing... Correcting some of the BAD Reputation the US has. Whats wrong with I'm willing to work with you But don't cross me.

    Gengrich, Stupid is as stupid is.....

    April 20, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. Judi in Minnesota

    All I have to say is...Thank heaven they (the GOP) aren't running the country. We finally have a president that is respectful of other leaders and the GOP call it irresponsible. Disrespect breeds contempt. Respect breeds respect. The GOP just doesn't get it.

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. twiddly

    If your neighbor is doing something that displeases you, say playing loud music at night, do you talk to them or do you ignore them completely and hope that your obvious disdain will change their behavior?

    Newt and his fellow republicans are clueless. All they do is try to portray Obama in as bad a light as possible, while offering nothing but the clearly failed policies of the past.

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. gwen

    If Newt and his boys had it their way we would just bomb them to get them to comply to UN regulations. The fact that Obama can get morons to come around to our way of thinking with a handshake (which by the way Bush did too) and a smile, speaks miles about what he is capable of doing without force.

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. AJ

    So, Newt is the saviour of the GOP again. How funny...

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. vm milano

    It is difficult to comment on whatever little we know. Newt has a valid point of view but he doesn't know what is happening behind the scenes. On the surface, it appears that Obama is appeasing many of the leaders this country has condemned in the past. This in itself sends out a bad signal to our friendly neighbors in Central and South America as well as the entire world. Whether President Obama believes that this country should practice more socialism common in Cuba and Venezuela is unconscionable and counter-democracy. We have existed for years because the USA represents freedoms not peculiar to many other nations, especially Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. Frankly, I have problems grasping Obama's intent and political agenda. He has been attempting an about-face in those qualities which an average American thought he possessed and what got him to the White House.

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. yuri

    Newt Gingrich regularly likes to lambast a lot of what BHO says or does with a littany of low-grade levels of charges that are lamentably lack luster logos addin' to his listless and ludicrous lies.

    As a sesoned staesman, he has consistenly failed miserably to be an objective politician or a critic. But then, what do you expect from a typical GOP?

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. adamandkanani

    Chavez isn't anti-American he was anti-Bush. As a matter of fact Chavez has done more to help poor Americans afford oil for their homes then American companies. newt you are done and your party is filled with angry war hawks that would rather see us fight everyone then make peace. you are wrong.

    April 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  14. alvino

    Newt is fueling the phobia fire of the right wing nuts. That will get him 24% in the primaries. I think with his womanizing and ethics violations he will make a good republican party candidate.

    April 20, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. demwit

    So what! Thats what the people want!!

    April 20, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. John

    Do I hear Newt calling the Obama administration shallow? This after 8 years of the Bush Administration whose policies were based on gut feelings and ideology? Obama is basing his administration on objectivity, communication, fact finding, intellect and pragmatism.

    I find it interesting that the leaders of the Republican party are supported so strongly by "Christian" Americans. Jesus made every effort to reach out to all people, to treat others as we would want to be treated, to go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek, to judge not-lest we be judged. Republican leaders have not made any attempt to demonstrate any of these ideals.

    Is it idealistic to think that a man like Chavez will change his spots overnight? Of course. But is it possible that by exchanging views with other nations and trying to better understand what drives national policies, we may be able to move toward common ground on some issues? Of course it is.

    April 20, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. Rob Schrader

    Chavez has "been anti-American his entire career" ?? well, he was first elected in 1998, so it sounds like he's been anti-George W. Bush his "entire career", and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

    Anyone with a working brain has been anti-George W. Bush for the last 8 years. Chavez is a soul-brother!

    April 20, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. donna

    I suppose Obama should have thrown the book to the floor and turned his back to Chavez in front of the cameras...that would have made better sense according to the GOP....

    Chavez called Bush "the devil", not America...grow up folks!!! Obama is the POTUS..move on...the book went up the charts because folks decided to READ it...that's a good thing..now maybe they can make their own decisions instead of letting Rush and the rest TELL them what to think....

    April 20, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. Crystle

    I get so frustrated. We elected Obama because of his charisma and his ability to make people comfortable. He is bringing good will to the world and easing the global hatred of Americans. Part of that is embracing our enemies. If we don't extend good will, good will won't be returned. For those that are more confrontational, have you ever heard the saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Please give the President the benefit of the doubt and a chance to do the job the majority of the American people have entitled him to do.

    April 20, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  20. Casey

    "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."

    Ummm....yeah....that's pretty much what this whole article is about. It already IS being used by enemies of the United States: The Republican Party, and Newt Gingrich who plans to run for President in 2012.

    April 20, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  21. Robin

    I am so sick of some Republicans' attempts to paint Obama as "dangerous" to the security of this nation. Its just that some of them are so accustomed to the "cowboy" style of foreign policy that most Americans are plain sick of.

    Gingrich's response is typical of some members of his party. Instead of offering new ideas, criticism of our president is all he has to offer. Now that is more dangerous to the security of our union.

    April 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. Paul Donald

    Until someone takes the initiative to change a hostile relationship it will always remain hostile. Same for nations as it is for personalities. Its unfortunate that there will always be those who promote hate and divisiveness. The trick is to promote cordial relations without giving the appearance of appeasement.

    April 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. Know the facts

    Gingrich is employing some interesting "logic" here...

    Chavez has been "anti-American his entire career," but the fact that Chavez RUSHED to shake hands with Obama is a bad thing?

    That makes no sense whatsoever. The fact that Chavez was so eager to shake Obama's hand suggests that American-Venezuelan relations appear to be thawing. That very notion was confirmed by Chavez's statement that he will redeploy the Venezuelan ambassador to America, which he pulled out during the Bush administration.

    Are relations with Venezuela going to be perfect from now on? Nope. There are still significant areas of disagreement. But, America can disagree with other nations without disrespecting them. That's not a sign of weakness. That's a sign of strength (with a Biblical basis).

    April 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. Nola

    I am sick and tried of hearing from the likes of Gingrich. He only knows one thing – the art of complaining. So do us all a favor -" Speak No More"

    April 20, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. sandy

    The only ones that are going to use the pictures as propaganda are the republicans. They are not going to be happy until they divide this country and then what Mr. Gingrich? This picture was just that, a picture. There were no talks, there were no negative decisions discussed or made. It was simply a picture that the Republicans are trying to use to make Obama look like he's weak. Nice try, but it's NOT going to work. The American people are smarter than that.

    April 20, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
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