Gingrich says Obama administration 'amateurish' on Egypt
February 7th, 2011
08:08 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich says Obama administration 'amateurish' on Egypt

(CNN) - Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's "concerned" about the Obama administration's handling of the situation in Egypt and what he sees as a divide between the White House and diplomat Frank Wisner.

"I think the fact that they appointed a very able diplomat Frank Wisner and within two days were publicly contradicting him is you know so amateurish," Gingrich told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "I was with John Bolton (former ambassador to the United Nations) last night. He said it's inconceivable that they would be this clumsy and this out of sync. I mean just with themselves, forget the Arab world. They can't even get the White House and their special envoy to be on the same page."

Wisner was sent to Egypt by the United States to negotiate directly with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the transition, and on his return said Mubarak should remain in office, at least for now, in order to hand over authority in an orderly manner.

At the White House press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Wisner does not speak for the administration.

"His views on who should or shouldn't be the head of Egypt don't represent the views of our administration," Gibbs said. "The views of our administration are that those are the decisions that will be made by the Egyptians."

But the envoy's remarks were not entirely out of line with those of other officials who have noted that there are "certain legitimate legislative hurdles" that must be overcome by Mubarak and could take some time to accomplish.

Gingrich also said he's worried that the United States might reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition Islamist umbrella group in the country.

"I think this is absolute total misreading of history. The Muslim Brotherhood is a mortal enemy of our civilization, they say so openly," Gingrich said.

The Brotherhood, officially banned but still tolerated by the Egyptian government, is already in negotiations with other – but not all – opposition groups and Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman. The Brotherhood was removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations in the 1970s and, at least in Egypt, has renounced violence.

The likely 2012 presidential candidate reiterated his "end of February and to March" deadline to make a decision and turned the discussion to former President Ronald Reagan, whose centennial birthday celebration he attended Sunday.

"Reagan did what he believed in when he thought it was right," Gingrich said. "I frankly try to study Reagan and (Margaret) Thatcher and (Abraham) Lincoln because I think they were the great truth tellers of modern politics, sometimes when telling the truth people in the establishment go nuts because it's not the truth they want to hear."

Filed under: 2012 • Egypt • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Evan Grantham-Brown

    I seem to recall a quaint custom that "politics stops at the water's edge." If Mr. Gingrich has a policy disagreement with this administration, or constructive suggestions to offer, he should by all means speak up. If he thinks the President has mishandled foreign affairs, he can bring it up at the next election. But to stand on the sidelines and armchair-quarterback in the midst of a crisis is... well, amateurish. If you have nothing substantial to offer, Mr. Gingrich, I invite you to sit down and shut up.

    February 7, 2011 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  2. Peter

    Predictable statement. Designed to posture Newt as alternative to Obama in 2012. Might as well have been a pre-written statement ready to go regardless of what Obama did. Pure politics.

    February 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  3. blue

    Whe cares what Newt says? He is nothing but a blow-heart and he wants to be somebody important. But, your fifteen minutes are up.

    February 7, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  4. mike moderate

    Newt's concerned???? Well I am concerned that the man who started HATE politics is still hanging around.

    Do us a favor about family values and how you run out on TWO wives while they were sick...Newt's concerned.....too bad....he is a spiteful hateful hack....another one of Fox's cronies who have free reign to talk trash without repurcussions

    Remember were going to bury Clinton and that didn't work chump

    February 7, 2011 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  5. DAVE

    gingrich is just like palin. can't seem to mind his own business about what another country is doing. mubarak just today called his top goverment people together to give them a %15 raise in pay just like the boardrooms of america even when they are about to fail! his people on the other hand make an average wage of just $2 a day. gingrich! why don't you get mubarak to come to this country to join the republican party i can see he would fit right in to the GOP thinking of how to run a country!

    February 7, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  6. Mike

    Newt is a bomb throwing biggot. He will never be president, or the leader that Obama is. Just another right wing nutt!

    February 7, 2011 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  7. Tisha

    Gingrich is delusional!! I associate the Republican party with the brotherhood. It is not for America to tell these people who should run their country. Its for them to decide, have they heard of democracy?

    February 7, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  8. Ken

    Grinch, you are a typical right wing whiner. Obama despite his flaws is 100 time the man that you will ever be.

    Why don't you support your President??

    February 7, 2011 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  9. fredfromsj

    Yes, USA is in trouble because we invested too heavily in Middle East autocrats. Now the people of these countries want freedom and democracy – the same ideals we fought for over 200 years ago – USA is not able to support them. This isn't a Obama issue. This has been going on since the discovery of oil that transform Middle East into a resource power. The only course of action is to dramatically decrease dependency from foreign oil and increase green tech resources. It will not happen overnight so the administration must maintain neutrality throughout the transition, until USA can gain its leverage economically.

    February 7, 2011 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  10. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    Since when is Newt or Reagan for that matter, known for telling the truth.

    February 7, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  11. Daniel

    Does anyone care what this blow hard womanizer has to say? He is a total has been!

    February 7, 2011 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  12. Kris

    Has Newt been President before? He has no place to call anyone amateurish.

    February 7, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13. z-lady

    And obviously
    Gingrich is a fascist.

    February 7, 2011 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    Mr Gingrich should note he (Wisner) was a special envoy appointed by the administration to report back to the administration following his visit. Which no doubt he did and was told that the administration did not support Mubarak remaining in place. That is why Wisner was no doubt back in such a very short space of time. Because Sec state and President etc did not agree at this time.
    Mr Wisner , however chose to exercise his right to freedom of speech, and no doubt the Administration had requested him to keep his views to himself .
    Any " hurdles" that need to be overcome the Obama administration it says must be resolved by the Egyptian people, thats called real democracy Mr Gingrich.
    The Brotherhood. Gingrich has been on the outside of any high level Intelligence, security or Defence committees for many years. He has no understanding of this organisation and totally disagrees with CNN's Peter Bergen on what they are and represent.
    Suileman has been Mubaraks right arm for 30 Years. Nothing changes only the name of the Dictator and Egypt remains a military run country.
    Now thats what Gingrich really wants, if so , he should say so; not use one sided ideological political criticism as he always does without as usual from the GOP a constructive idea of the Democratic alternative way forward.
    Critics are 10 to the cent, problem solvers people who offer real effective solutions are very rare.

    February 7, 2011 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  15. JJC

    The republicans have learned. All you have to do is repeat something enough and the uneducated walmart shoppers of America will believe it. Doesn't have to be true. It just needs to be repeated. Damn this country is in trouble.

    February 7, 2011 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  16. LouAz

    This has been blowhard didn't know anything about Egypt when he was Speaker and clearly hasn't gotten any smarter.
    Nothing of substance here . . . move along, please, just move along.

    February 7, 2011 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  17. George

    The more harsh the GOP gets with its criticism of Obama, the more credibility he seems to get. Keep it coming, Newt and Sarah and all the rest of the wind bag right wing!

    February 7, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  18. Desmond

    This "Grinch" that stole Christmas is opening his inane mouth again. As an outsider, it is amazes me how pathetically craving for power the likes of him are and what they will stoop to, again and again.

    February 7, 2011 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  19. Newt the Grinch !

    Newt nobody cares what you think ! Newt you're a has been , whose time has long past ! People like you got us bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan ! So far the President has managed to keep us from getting into another costly and unnecessary war ! I think I will take his advice over yours anyday ! Newt do us all a favor and go quail hunting with Dick Cheney !

    February 7, 2011 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  20. MS

    There was once a time when I respected Newt Gingrich for his opinions and intellectual insight into American Politics. Unfortunately it seems that he is now content to devolve into mudslinging with all of the other political pundits out there.

    February 8, 2011 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  21. Monty

    Coming from Newt, this means less than nothing.

    The idea that we have ANY right to decide, or attempt to influence, the will of the people in Egypt is pretty preposterous. It would have been like China butting in during the American Revolution and siding with the king of England.

    February 8, 2011 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  22. Fed Up

    Everything this administration does is "amateurish." That's what happens when you vote in someone that has only held a job as a community organizer. There is no managerial experience.

    February 8, 2011 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  23. Pat in IL

    Gingrich is nothing but an amoral trouble maker. His comments are meant to stir up negativity and he has to stretch to do that. Disgusting.

    February 8, 2011 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  24. roy bushman

    President Obama has demonstrated more wisdom than Bush or gingrich will ever have. Armchair quarterbacking and back seat driving are easy. Our foreign policy position is 100 times better than Bush left us with just 2 years ago. I really wish the far right would move away from sound bites to an educated foreign policy geared to more than trying to get votes from the least educated. Please get some education and read the media from all sources before voting next time.

    February 8, 2011 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  25. Chad

    Obama has been handling the situation quite well, given all the intricacies involved. Gingrich is a muckraker, similar to Palin.

    February 8, 2011 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
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