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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    ...Well that's true too.....

    September 13, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Newt should know. Based on his years as "Minority Whip" and Speaker he was both Dictator and Thug, himself.

    September 13, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Salute that, Newt. Like I said yesterday, Putin is still fighting the old fight, almost as if he's wanting to rekindle his own Cold War.

    September 13, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  4. Santy

    How stupid....knee-jerk reaction, let the diplomacy republican wants war to ad war economy...

    September 13, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Seriously though, you gotta comsider the source of the insult and deal with it the way the President has dealt with all of the Rethugs who insult him every chance they get: ignore and checkmate him.
    Those that have indulged in publicly insulting and attempting to humiliate our President have emboldened gnats like Putt-Putt to thusly speak about our CIC.
    Actions have consequences.

    September 13, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Takes one to know one.

    September 13, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. mah29

    Why is the ego of some American leaders so fragile they cannot just say 'thanks Vladimir'? Of course he has his own agenda and this action fit into it. Of course we still disagree with the Russian stances of global issues. So what. this action kept us from bombing Syria and expanding the mid east conflict. Call off the threat of attack since it is a moot point for the time being. No big deal. The GOP ways so anti Obama they forget to behave as elected officials serving all of the country not just their own political agendas. The Dems are propping up the White House by agreeing but still trying to show this was all Obama. Gingrich decries Putin's nationalism and we do the same. Term limits for very elected official would stop these folks from protecting themselves and not the citizens who voted for them.

    September 13, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. tsocrates

    Another great example of what a useless, irrelevant, mouth piece Newt Gingrich is.
    Another politician, feigning outrage while MISQUOTING the one he claims to be so upset with.

    What a phony, useless, hot-air bag.
    Take it back to the school yard, chump.

    September 13, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  9. ClassieLassie

    Gingrich is not exceptional. Ridiculous but he just has to hop in front of cameras and point his finger. Saw the polls and most Americans agree, we are not exceptional. Ginigrich is popular, but not well liked. Don't really care what Ginigrich says.

    September 13, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. David

    I agree with Newt our country is being brought down by greed.

    September 13, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. Pandamonius

    Poor Gingrich, like much of the GOP, doesn't know where to stand on this issue. He's against involvement in Syria because Obama is for it, yet he can't bear to be on the same side of the argument as Putin, who actually is a "communist"

    September 13, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. David

    Putin is an absolute chess master when it comes to politics. Obama is looking like a rank amateur, one mistake after another. Look at Obama trying to figure out what to do, he keeps changing his mind, he's not sure what to do, says he's going to do one thing and then the next day says something else. Now look at Putin's statements lately. Not only clear and decisive, they are straight out of Political Correctness: international law, no country is exceptional, America uses force to settle problems, etc. Obama is looking like an idiot. Certainly he's no match for Putin.

    September 13, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  13. Pandamonius

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

    You just described most of our own politicians, especially among the GOP.

    September 13, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  14. Anonymous

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

    If this is even remotely true, America has some very serious "I Pledge Allegiance To" concerns within its own borders that should be addressed pronto. Taking into consideration the quality of comments from bloggers who in their insatiable need to criticize our sitting President showed their infantile eagerness to hitch themselves to Putin's bandwagon, I would say Putin got what he wanted through this mockery of ALL Americans piece of BS he laughing calls an Op-Ed. Kudos to the NYT and all other networks that thought it'd be fun to help Putin spin Americans against America.

    September 13, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. miami

    Oh no wait this guy putin is a crazy body care what he said here in unite state..lets see us military still on the table this going to slap putin when diplomat fail..oh wait a munite if this guy putin care so much about diplomat why he dont asked his evil friend like assad to step down let people in syria choose whom they want to lead the counrty. that what call a free world .and guest what putin still provide assad with weapon to kill more inocent kids and women and men ...this guy putin is a satan ....for those of you said putin try to give diplomat a chance i would like to said you are the satan to more then 100000 people die kids women and men gues who provide those weapon ..putin...this guy is nothing but a evil men..when is fake diplomacy fail unite state will show putin what is real diplomacy look like when we strik assad and bring him to international law for all those people he kill... the power belong to the people not to one men... putin is nothing but a thug Evil and ediot ....

    September 13, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  16. Phillip

    Newt Gingrich has no room to complain. His is a dark heart and if he could be dictator and a thug he would jump at the chance.

    September 13, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. Gail

    Shame on all of you and your negative comments!! This is the United States of America, I am embarrassed that we actually have people here favoring a dictator in this manner. Back your country or go live where you can back your leaders!!

    September 13, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. Data Driven

    @Wake up People,

    "You people are PATHETIC."

    Hear hear.

    September 13, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. tolajn

    Enough of the name calling! I feel as though I am on a middle school playground when I hear grown adults problem solve differences of opinion with the emotional skills of a pre-teen. And we wonder why there is bullying in our schools. Just look at who was running for president a few years back and you see the ineffective and childish reactive way of navigating life broadcast for all of our youth to see. Newt, work on the things that led you to commit adultery and then covered it up with the media before you begin throwing around words like "thug".

    September 13, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Olaf Big

    I am embarassed by the lowbrow response by the U.S. politicians. So Putin said that America was not exceptional. You can agree or disagree with that, by why start piling up insults? Sen. Menendez regaled us with the report of his bodily functions (apparently he wanted to throw up after reading Putin's op-ed), Gingrich calls Putin a thug... This is kindergarten: your mama is so fat that...

    September 13, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. tolajn

    I back this country and my grandparents fought hard to become citizens of this amazing nation in the 1920's. To be proud of the U.S. does not mean that we stand behind a politician who talks trash about leaders of other countries. I am horrified with Putin and what he stands for, yet presenting the reasons of your displeasure with another person on the political stage need not be reduced to childish rants. State the facts and draw your audience to empathize with your cause by being calling just makes one look childish. Jerry Springer taught an entire generation to revel in ridiculous name calling. Oh, I forgot, Jerry was a politician once.

    September 13, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. Ed

    I constantly read stories in the American media about Christian practice and expression being outlawed in the U.S..
    America is slowly becoming an intolerant atheist state and Russia is slowly becoming a Christian one. Who would have ever thought this. Let Putin speak, Americans believe in free speech do they not? Why the freaking out on a foreigner speaking his mind? Agree to disagree and be polite about it. Americans are losing this right themselves due to political correctness, ask a Christian.

    September 13, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  23. Wake up People!

    Well Newt you and your ilk have accomplished most of what you have spent the past 5 years attempting to do. Give yourselves a pat on the back GOP. For the past 5 years you have done absolutely nothing to move this country forward. You and your ilk have openly expressed the nastiest thoughts ever about a POTUS. You have encouraged your followers to question his birth, oppose everything he proposes and even secession from the United States and now you have even managed to get many of them to take the word of an ex KGB agent, dictating thug over our President. Well done guys, well done!!

    September 13, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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!!
    -------------------------------------------------Had I read your post I would've never posted.
    Way to go Wake up!!
    This is indeed the end result of the actions of the very same people that demanded that we stand together behind the Crawford Village Idiot's edits, all products of his willful low-information quotient and Rove's ego and Cheney's greed.
    My turn to applaud you my friend!!

    September 13, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Newt, work on the things that led you to commit adultery and then covered it up with the media before you begin throwing around words like "thug
    ...And THAT is also true....

    September 13, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16