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. Jonathan

    Politicians should be spending their time and energy on solving problems instead of generating problems. Gingrich, Menendez, and the like have chosen to throw a tantrum when they couldn't get hold of all the toys on the floor. Grow up, kids!

    September 13, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  2. bach2112

    Yeah we have a lot of room to talk about invading other country's. Newt you are the one to blame for nothing getting done in Washington since your contract with America crap back in 90. Isnt that when the repubs started shutting down the government when they didnt get their way. Isnt that when all the HATE started up in the capitol. You mad bro cause Putin pulled the God arguement out of the repug playbook. Let the Ruskies handle it. If it saves ONE American life I all in. I dont care if a bunch of politicians are sick to their stomachs, feeling castrated etc. Im like a lot of other Americans. Tired of constant war.

    September 13, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  3. Richard Wood

    I couldn't agree more. Americans don't need to be reminded that we are exceptional, we know we are. Most of are not blind enough to not see are faults. But, with those same wide open eyes, we see Putin for what he is. Perhaps the most exceptional thing Putin has done is to bring us even closer together with his trash talk. Mr Putin, name 10 Americans that have left the U S for Russia and I will name a thousand Russians who have left their homeland and settled in the U S. Do not ever think that you can drive a stake between us. We reserve that right for ourselves.

    September 13, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  4. Martha Henderson

    So you think he is to be ignored, do you? are as stupid as your remarks were!! He is one strong example of what Obama isn't..Russia doesn't have all of the welfare going on there..Russia doesn't put up with BS why do you think he is wearing panties??? Are you serious about Putin NOT being serious?? Have they increased your GMO sugar intake in the Kool-Aid you drink???

    September 13, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  5. long nguyen

    we need Commender Chief of USA to act right away do not talking any more about Sary... it is ...... wast timeor surrend Ammerican people so tied we need him [Presendent]to sept way for him..LOng

    September 13, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  6. Yacoub

    Finally, someone sees who Vladimir Putin is. Nothing other than red Communist.

    September 13, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  7. sardar

    Gingrich is a looser and Putin rules

    September 13, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  8. Nic Tine

    Newt is laughable. And of course, we should take Obama and any of the Zio puppets in Washington serious!!!! Nice try, but Putin has courage to stand up to the real thugs!!!!

    September 13, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  9. Danram

    I don't always agree with Newt Gingrich, but on this score he's 100% right. Vladimir Putin is nothing but a two-bit KGB thug. He's "Stalin lite". I wouldn't trust him to tell me what time of day it was.

    September 13, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    It's actually hilarious reading all of these comments praising a communist, dictating, thug, all the while calling our President the very same thing. You people are PATHETIC.

    September 13, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  11. Kathleen Kenney

    Newt Gingrich gets an F in Diplomacy 101. Kerry and Obama are seeking a peaceful resolution to the Syrian problem and Putin offers hope.
    Let world leaders continue to resolve conflicts. No matter which side you're on in this Syrian dilemma, Newt's name calling makes him a bully on the world stage.

    September 13, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  12. ge

    just what america needs a show where republicans and democrats scream at each other all after noon .no wonder america is so screwed up.i got more out of watching 360 later

    September 13, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  13. Joan

    It looks like the Republicans are going to do everything they can to obstruct any kind of peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the chemical weapons issue. They don't want any kind of solution that looks at all positive for the administration. Insulting Russia and Putin has been their mantra for years. Remember how Romney called them the biggest enemy and McCain said Putin stole a ring. Ridiculous. Why does the media keep giving these obstructionists a platform to spew their rants? This kind of rhetoric is not in any way helpful, just muddies the waters and makes consultations more difficult. Maybe that is what they want.

    September 13, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. thatgrlinaz

    He Newt- Funny you call Putin a Dictator thug when he is exactly a carbon copy of the Tea Party and current GOP! You and your "party" are the so much alike in you thinking about how to run a country it is more frightening every day. And the gOP being in bed with the likes of the Koch brothers AND the NRA (who are NOT a citizens group but the new version of the MAFIA) is even worse than Putin. You and your Party's schemes to steal money from Americans to fund your lifestyles and the racism, bullying, disrespect and refusal to follow laws of your own country, in place for hundreds of yrs, just to get your way is unAmerican. You are ALL LIARS and a disgrace to America's hard fought true heritage. You all take, take and take from the working lass to feed your egos an do nothing for America. So you have no room to be pointing fingers.

    September 13, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  15. Mike-sc

    Newt, what are you? A liar, cheater and a thief stealing from the American public.
    So, you are not any different than Putin

    September 13, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    "He's just one more in a long tradition of dictators and thugs."
    ------- says the cheater and the corpulent slug...

    September 13, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. Organic1

    Every American should feel insulted by what putin said.

    September 13, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  18. JC

    Newt, that's an ad hominem argument. I don't care for Putin personally or politically either, but it has no bearing on the argument in his opinion piece.

    September 13, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  19. Jennifer NY

    Newt is an offense to mankind. Why is this man on CNN? After reading Mr. Putin's Op-ed, I looked at it from the Russian view. Americans from all walks of life have been exceptional by contributing to the world through education, technology, science, innovation, medicine, and social issues. Freedom to create is a big factor. President said "with humility" so it wasn't meant to be arrogant. Immigrants from all over the world is what has made America great. Calling Mr. Putin names is not an argument that deserves respect. I appreciate what Mr. Putin is doing to help resolve some of the issues in Syria....he is not wrong on a lot of his points. Let us be honest and admit it. It is difficult to trust them because of past issues, but by working with Russia, China, France and the UK all of us will be better off in the world.

    September 13, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. Wisemann

    Whoever Putin may be, in this situation he is absolutely right. And that is what matters.
    I know of another politician, democratically elected, who preached his nation exceptionalism and was willing to wage wars as he pleased. But he ended up committing suicide in the Furer's Bunker in April, 1945

    September 13, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. pcappit

    In other news, the sun is hot.

    September 13, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  22. ED1

    That would be an upgrade calling him a THUG.

    September 13, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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."
    Oh snap!
    You wanna wait on shooting off your mouth until AFTER this "little thing" with Syria is diplomatically resolved with Russia as the intermediary Newt?
    Your comments may be on point, but your timing really, really sucks.
    Zip it for the time being.

    September 13, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    Gingrich is amusing, but in truth, Putin sees the reality of the situation, far more clearly than our own leaders, and his analysis of the situation, in Syria, is absolutely dead on.

    September 13, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  25. Wake up People!

    Well Newt, you, Rush, Hannity and the rest of your klan should truly give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. For the past 5 years you have done absolutely nothing except call the POTUS names, disrespect him and denigrate him ad nauseum. You have encouraged your followers to question his birth, berate his family, and disagree with him about everything. And look what your result is. Many people in this country are willing to believe a lying, murdering KGB agent over their own President. They are actually cheering for a real communist! Way to go GOP, way to go!!

    September 13, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
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