September 12th, 2013
07:40 PM ET
7 years ago

Gingrich: Putin is a dictator and a thug

(CNN) – Americans shouldn't let Vladimir Putin's opinions get under their skin because the Russian president is a one-time KGB officer whose primary interest is nationalism, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday.

"While we have to deal with him as the president of Russia, we don't have to respect his views. We don't have to respect his opinions," said Gingrich, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."

"And frankly, we should laugh at him when he tries to lecture America about exceptionalism, because he ain't exceptional. He's just one more in a long tradition of dictators and thugs."

Putin rattled some Americans, including high-profile figures in Washington, when he argued in a New York Times op-ed against U.S. military intervention in Syria. In the final paragraph, he took issue with the idea of America being the proverbial shining city on a hill.

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," he wrote.

His comment was a jab at President Barack Obama who said in a speech on Tuesday America has an obligation to respond to situations like the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"That's what makes us exceptional," Obama said.

Some were not amused by Putin's advice.

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said on CNN the piece made him almost want "to vomit," and House Speaker John Boehner said he was "insulted."

Read: Vladimir Putin's comments on American exceptionalism, Syria cause a fuss

But Gingrich said Putin shouldn't be taken seriously.

"This is a guy who, for public relations purposes, wrestles bears. He shoots tigers, stripped to the waist, to prove he's a tough guy," he said.

The former House speaker pointed to Putin's history as a former intelligence officer for the KGB, where he worked from 1975-1992.

Gingrich also argued Putin was behind the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the conflict in Chechnya has killed thousands.

He expressed doubt the opinion piece was even written by Putin, saying it was likely penned by a Washington speechwriters.

"You can go through and read that document and you could find at every single stage find that it's a lie," Gingrich said. "For us to take it seriously is a sign that we have forgotten who Vladimir Putin is."

Filed under: Crossfire • Newt Gingrich • Russia
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. Dp

    Newt Gingrich taking the side of war and mayhem? Whodathunk?

    September 13, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  2. ge

    if all the products in america said made in russia instead of made in china ,they would be ok

    September 13, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  3. Adam

    He he is making Obama look like the fool he is

    September 13, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  4. Andi Lee

    Mr. Gingrich, reality check, there's no question who Putin is – history speaks for itself. He's a man who believes in HIS COUNTRY. President Obama seems to be conflicted with every aspect of his life, except golf. That's as close to the truth as P.O. will ever get to true. It seems to elude him, otherwise. Yes, Americans are paying attention... it is the only thing we can afford to do! Thanks to people like YOU for stealing our way of life, and giving it away to third world countries, who dont give a crap about life, love or liberty!

    September 13, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  5. Roto

    Quit respecting Putin. He is nothing more than a self-agrandizing egomaniac. That's it.

    September 13, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  6. Jacqui

    I couldn't agree with you more. The audacity of him writing an OP-ed in an American paper and his own people can't have freedom of speech in their own country. How about having the American President write an OP-ed in a major Russian news-paper. EVIL IS WHAT YOU CALL HIM.

    September 13, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  7. Minnie Mouse

    Why is Putin a thug?? So, what it's a name calling game now instead of the blame game for telling the truth! That's absurd.
    Our country is not perfect and neither is any other country. The only perfect person is "God", that we are all children of "God". That was his exact message and it doesn't matter if he had help writing the letter or not. What was said is the plain truth and nothing but the truth, to also include he has a right to his opinion as we do, as you do and just as I am doing. Unfortunately the truth always hurts, and someone get offended by it.

    I would rather someone tell me the truth than lie to my face or behind my back. He didn't do anything wrong. I don't care if I am not even from that country.

    September 13, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  8. Guest

    Who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks about anything? "Colonize the moon by the end of my second term as President" told me everything in his head is irrelevant.

    September 13, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  9. So What

    The US government is the same way, so what. There is just more thugs running this place than Russia

    September 13, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  10. barryjs07

    At this point America's greatest liability is the political class. It has become downright embarrassing exposing to the world these idiots. All of them.

    September 13, 2013 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  11. ge

    and who does communist china side with. america could use a little nationalism

    September 13, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  12. The Dude

    THIS, from the country that brought you "Uncle Joe" Stalin.

    September 13, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  13. jonp

    Putin is also a petty thief.

    September 13, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  14. james

    Newt's opinion and a dollar will get you a small coffee in most fast food restaurants.

    September 13, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  15. Jerry Schull

    Mr. Gingrich,
    But he is right. The only exceptional thing I see here is the exceptional amount of resources we spend on our military. All at a time when we are trying to save money, cutting back on programs needed by the most needy in America, cutting back on needed infrastructure maintenance, cutting back on needed investments in our youth via student loans, grants, etc.

    People, it is wrong to bomb a nation into the stone-age and then have to rebuild it with our tax dollars. Bush did this, and we are still feeling the pain in our pocketbook.

    We are not the police of the world. We need to defund the military to a reasonable level necessary for our defense not our ability to be aggressors or world police.

    September 13, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  16. billy bob

    Gingrich, I suspect you will find that more people have more respect for Putin than they do you, americans are now understanding what you so called leaders are.

    September 13, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  17. Rocky

    Seriously! While true that Putin is a thug, he is also a world leader. Listen to what he's saying ... The idea of the US as exceptional is not believed by the rest of the world. Less and less. Don't get caught in your own hype. Not the policemen of the world. And moral leaders don't bomb their way to protect their own interests! A beautiful country.... Wake up and see yourselves honestly. No shame in that.

    September 13, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  18. Tony

    This is one time I agree with Newt. Putin is nothing but a THUG and a true Dictator. President Obama should NEVER trust this rodent.

    September 13, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  19. leo

    Gingrich like McCain, Paneta, and the rest of the senate's crows are war mentality and criminal ones.
    Putin is a hero. He did with diplomacy what EU wanted with the strikes. Putin will be recorded in history as the man that evoided the strikes against Lybia and EU as the agresive war mentality one.

    September 13, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  20. Sue

    Why ANY American would give credence to anything that fool Putin says amazes me. The situation in Syria is tragic and terrifying, but it all could have been stopped a year or more ago. Once the UN got involved and TRIED to sort the problems out, but between Russia and China blocking any action and supplying Assad's forces with goods, Syria has been able to 'flip off' the rest of the world. It's two years later, over 200,000 Syrians are dead, a huge portion of the citizens are now refugees and Assad has decided to stop wasting time on bombs and use GAS on his people instead. If Putin was ANY kind of a president (or man) he eould have been smart enough to prevent this horror..instead he has helped keep the slaughter going. I hope President Obama keeps out ships right where they are with their guns loaded and ready to blow Assad off the earth, no matter what Congress decides. We cannot allow this carnage to go on, as Americans and especially as human beings.

    September 13, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  21. M.A.P.

    Putin and Gingrich are both thugs. I'm so glad he didn't get elected for the Republican nomination! I hope that was his last attempt at taking the White House. Hillary 2016!

    September 13, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  22. resident

    America used to be exceptional. We reached the pinnacle on July 20, 1969, maintained our excellence until mid-December of 1972, and have been in a slow, steady decline ever since.

    We entered the "era of shortages" with the Arab oil embargo of 1973, and with the repeal of every Depression-era regulation that created societal stability accelerated the rate of descent.

    Today, we celebrate mediocrity and decry and deride those who attempt to push civilization forward. We delude ourselves into thinking we hold the moral high ground based upon events of 70 years ago.

    Money is our God, Wall Street is our temple. Social Darwinism is our future...those who have the gold make the rules, and them that gots gets more.

    Are we as a nation willing to take a good, honest look at ourselves?

    September 13, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  23. Albert

    hey, thanks Newt Gingrich, you are alright in my book 🙂 what a creep Putin, stealing our computers and chastising America on 9/11/13. smh he is losing his marbles.

    September 13, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  24. Coffee

    I thought all Putin was saying was let Geneva Convention, League of Nations I mean United Nations do their job? That we should not step over their authority if we want them to retain any sort of authority. You shouldn't call Putin a thug I mean we already get most countries aren't run by Walt Disney. Everyone just needs to comply, cooler heads prevail. We are both supplying this war right? Putin said we are not exceptional in that we shouldn't have the authority to act without UN approval that's all. Unless I am not understanding putins point / there some other underground reason?

    September 13, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  25. smith

    Oh calm down Newt. We stepped in it and instead of stepping out of it, the US is standing firm. Obama and congress have a blank stare that says we are dumb. Walk away, Assad is killing terrorist and AQ. Who cares!

    September 13, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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