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. Wendy in Cleveland

    I'll admit seeing Obama smiling at Chavez turned my stomach. However, letting my brain have charge of things, I know that diplomacy requires one be polite, maybe even cordial with one's enemy (and I believe Chavez is basically the enemy of anyone who is not Chavez.) Diplomacy isn't weakness or misguided. The previous administration may have whittled away a lot of America's "big stick" but Obama knows we still have plenty left. Diplomacy is not weakness, and anybody who pretends it is right now is pushing a counterproductive,selfish, partisan agenda.

    April 20, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. Erin

    Surprise Surprise... a key top Republican feigning yet another "outrage" at Obama for being polite to another diplomat. Yes, we don't live Chavez – but if Obama had "snubbed" him, and gone in the other direction – the headline from Gingrich would have been "Obama snubs top international diplomat".

    The Republicanse really don't get how irrelevant they are making themselves each time they cry wolf at Obama's every move. They're going to be pretty upset in about 6 or 7 months when he actually screws up for the first time – and no one cares to listen because they've totally tuned out the "He can do no RIGHT" party.

    April 20, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. a canuck

    Hasn't Gingrich learned that it is very wise to "keep your friends close and your enemies CLOSER" ??????

    April 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Mike from Shelburne, VT

    Again, no, not an anti-American campaign, an anti-Bush/Cheney. Is this really your idea of what other country's are? Impressionable little kids? Get over your own idiocy and move forward in the world for once. The reason we have so many enemies is because of your ideas when it comes to other country's. I feel a lot safer in America when our presidents expanding diplomacy and relations with other country's, not when we're relying on the army and intimidation to do the same thing.

    April 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Venkatesh

    It's called basic human courtesy. Looks like Newt & gang didn't learn that as part of the "Family Values" 101.

    For starters, if you cannot even smile and greet, then I don't think we can make any further progress in our relations with our adversaries.

    April 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Ralph

    Actually, the Republicans are against Chavez is because he is moving his country to socialism... plain and simple.. and as we know, democrats favor socialism.. No doubt about that.. Lets not sugar coat what is happening in this country right now.. If you want to see the effects of socialism, you only have to look at the former ussr.. union of soviet SOCIALIST republic.. I say ignore the sob.. as oil prices crash, he becomes irrelevant.. he cannot support any of his socialist policies, and he'll be booted out of the office in a flash.

    April 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. Erick

    President Obama represents a new age of politics one that is based on communication and understanding the world around you so that you can make positive progress.

    Newt and those like him represent the old style. We have enemies in the world. They are Bad. Anyone who doesn't think the way we do or do things the way we want them done is Bad. No matter what they say they are Bad. We must not interact with Bad people.

    Newt give me a break!

    April 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. anthrogirl

    You catch a lot more bees with honey. Latin America (minus Mexico) is moving in a very progressive fashion, much like the European Union has been for the last couple of decades. The U.S. should know that if it does not act quickly it will not be a part of any union and will have to stand alone. I am very pleased that after so many years, the U.S. is finally listening to the rest of the world, hopefully we are a bit closer to peace. And for all of you who just think you know what has been going on in Venezuela, but don't really know...I would recommend the documentary "The Revolution will not be Televised". You can watch it on youtube in several parts. We just need to open our eyes and see our country for what we have represented in the last 2 centuries and what we need to become for our future.

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. Mr. Phil

    For a party that brags so much about spreading democracy, they sure have some issues with democratically elected leaders (and we can remove GW Bush from THAT group). Face it, Chavez is an elected official. As such, he has every right to criticize an administration whose policies he doesn't agree with. And, let's not forget (what has been pointed out already), his "beef" was with Bush, not with the U.S. Besides, it's not like he threatened us or anything.

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. Jacob Moore

    The only thing sadder then both republican senators and or respected figures in the republican party speaking out about Chavez shaking President Obamas hand or giving him a book is thatthey think that Americans ar shallow enough to accept these comments as relevant when it is a well known fact that the Bush adminstarion put America in harms way to protect the ties that Vice President Cheney has witholl of the big boys in the oil industries. Thanks Nezt and Ensignwe really needed a reminder as to why the repbulican party was not voted in during the last election, if they can please continue becauseit will only insure more seats for the democrats in the 2010 and 2012 elections.. Bravo fellas, bravo...

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Doc Ray

    Please go away, Newt! You Repubs are happy when we're making more enemies and depressed when we're making friends. I hope you'd form a circular firing squad instead of attacking the administration that is trying to protect us from our real enemies, the corporate CEOs who couldn't care less about the common people.

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Accountability

    Yeah...propaganda like the U.S. is finally ready to deal with countries as equal partners in progress instead of as imperialistic overlords. What a concept! Who knows, maybe peace will break out all over! Can't have that now can we neocons.....amazing.....

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Richard Atlanta

    History can be correlated to these recent acts by the Democratic President of the US. Bowing before Kings, seeking out and enabling dictators such as Chavez, codling to the Mexicans via Clinton placing blame on Americans for drug addiction and allowing arrested illegals work place time by unscrupulous companies...

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written for American by Americans and the current Democratic Power in Place in Washington has shown it supports non Americans over residents and is seeking world assimilation.

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. Debbie

    Gingrich is trying his best to be a voice in the Republican party. They are leaderless so for the first time since his embarrassing departure from Congress, Gingrich see an opening to actually matter again in the world of politics. He may want to check in with the Think Tanks in Washington to get some new ideas though. Criticizing The President won't be enough for a washed up politician and a washed up Party.

    April 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. Venkat

    President Obama is behaving like a responsible leader, taking initiatives and showing what American best can be unlike his predecessor. Now no one can point finger at US for behaving in an "arrogant or in an imperial manner" . If shaking hands is bad, then snubbing some one cannot be better. All good relations begin with good manners, being sensible in action and speech and mature dealing – not with loose talk like"alive or dead" or "axis of evil

    President Obama is investing in global relationship, providing more light than heat which is what the world needs now.

    President Obama is embarking on "lead by example". The republicans complain it is unfair – since they do not have an example.

    April 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  16. obama/mama

    Venia PA April 20th, 2009 9:42 am ET

    Chavez was ANTI BUSH, not Anti American


    April 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  17. AmericaGotItRightThisTime

    What was he supposed to do, turn his back?

    April 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. EDR

    BO – "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."

    Of cousre he says this.. after all, there was no consequence for him to start his political career in the home of a domestic terrorist, there was no consequence for him to spend 20 years under the mentorship of a man who hates America, there was no consequence for him to appoint individuals to his administration who failed to properly pay taxes... there is NOTHING Obama can do wrong in the eyes of the sheeple who worship him.

    April 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. DB

    After awhile it all just sounds like "blah, blah, blah" from GOP leaders. It is so predictable what they are going to say and the MSM is there hanging on their every word, spinning it for all it's worth....

    April 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Uncle Ellsworthy

    It appears that we no longer have a president, only a national apologist.
    Appologies might seem fine and proper to folks here and in some other western countries. But most of the folks we have problems with view it as a sign of weakness and not much more. The differences in cultures have not been taken into consideration it would seem. Newt's assessment as to the shallowness of the administration's analysis certainly seems to be right on target.

    April 20, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  21. Tolu

    The "exchange" will be used by only the GOP as propaganda. No one else. Idiots!

    April 20, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. itbeme

    OMG! They shook hands! The world must be coming to an end!

    the only people who will be using this as propaganda will be the rebukes.

    April 20, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. ColeyO

    Only the Repugs will and are using the photo as propaganda. Thats what happens when you have no solutions for anything, make as much stink about nothing. Smoke and mirrors yet again.

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. katiec

    President Obama shook hands with 33 presidents.
    How typical the media and the republicans (same) pick up and
    make an issue out of one instance.
    Our president is a wonderful representation of us and our
    country and does us all proud. GIVE HIM A BREAK!!

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  25. Phil

    Why can't we talk to people who does not like our policies? The silly position of not talking to those that we disagree with or those who disagree with us has taken us nowhere. So Let's try a new approach.

    April 20, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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