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. dot

    Gingrich is a liar and a fraud. Nobody should take him seriously.

    September 12, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  2. George Washington

    It's not wise to anger a nuclear armed country

    September 12, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  3. adam

    Look at this liar calling another a liar. Should Gingrich be taken seriously at all by Americans?
    He sure is unstable in judgement. An old fart who should retire from politics and make way for young
    dedicated Americans who wan to serve their country with intelligence and good judgement.

    September 12, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  4. Just a Gal

    Oddly, I agree with Newt. And yes, this is alarming...

    September 12, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  5. jamie

    You have no room to talk you two timing fool. Go talk to someone else about family value you hypocrite.

    September 12, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  6. Howard

    3 points-
    1) America is exeptional, we are the worlds remaining superpower and have the worlds biggest economy while maintaining a democratic form of goverment and individual rights.
    2) After Russias history as a murderous autocratic state from the 1500s to the 1990s they have no right to tell us what to do in regard to imperialism especially with a former KGB officer as their head of state
    3)The U.S and Russia have both supported dictators.the list is absurdly long.However, Russia is currenty attempting to protect a mass murder this time they are wrong.

    September 12, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  7. Bkoh

    The thing is, just because he's a terrible person doesn't mean what he said was wrong in this case. It's not a valid argument to say someone is wrong because they are not a good person. Everyone is right sometimes.

    September 12, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  8. Jim

    How about we spend a trillion dollars fighting crime in Chicago, or rebuilding Detroit? There are "wars" going on in those places and I know whose side I should be on.

    September 12, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  9. Olaf Big

    Well, I don't know if Vladimir Putin knows who Newt Gingrich is, I certainly don't see any reason why he would bother, but one reason for us to remember who Putin is, is that he is the president of the largest country in the world, which also happens to have roughly the same number of nuclear warheads as the U.S.

    September 12, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  10. Michael Benjamin

    Every time Putin moves his lips another lie comes out. The NYT made a bundle of this thug. Hooray for America!

    September 12, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  11. Free

    Gingrich is really angry and weak. Hold your pen and write him back !!!

    September 12, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  12. Scott

    Gingrich: Putin is a dictator and a thug.

    One more thing the two of you have in common, Newt.

    September 13, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  13. Bob

    For once, I agree with Newt.

    September 13, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  14. JW

    It's obvious why Newt is just a political pundit now. One politician poses rational thought about how to peacefully handle a dangerous situation and another politician poses insults and name calling, who's the thug?

    Way to make the US proud, Newt. Perhaps it's best not to speak and thought a fool, than...

    September 13, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  15. karenjay

    I don't think Gingrich realizes the problem is not our mistrust of Putin, it is our mistrust of our own politicians.

    September 13, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. scootfl78

    Hmmmm...believe Putin or believe Gingrich....

    They're both so classy and stand up individuals, its hard to choose. Well if we wanted to trust someone who has experience in the U.S. in destroying lives (thanks to the "contract with America" back in the 90s which led harsher conservatism and greed), then Gingrich is the man. If there's someone who knows what its like to lie to the American people, its a Republican (though you'll usually never hear them admitting it).

    September 13, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  17. michael dowling

    Why do we care what Gingrich thinks? Hasnt he been buffoon enough over the years? why cant we stop following men like him who become newsmakers by the news services that pay attention to them..

    September 13, 2013 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  18. reldra

    Gingrich is not the greatest spokesperson for this. I would believe Putin over Gingrich. I would ask Honey Boo Boo her opinion on this before I asked Gingrich.

    September 13, 2013 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  19. billn

    G was instrumental in creating the housing mess and created laws to not prosecute wall street when they fraud Americans.

    September 13, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  20. soundoff32

    Well if Newt's against it, I'm for it. It's an unfailing formula.

    September 13, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  21. Gradivus

    I heard Gingrich say (on Crossfire today) that he thought Putin's Times op-ed comment about God was probably a product of a New York ghost-writing firm. But if he thinks that he hasn't been reading Pravda, the official newspaper of Putin's Russian government. Their editorials routinely support religion (the Russian Orthodox Church in particular), and blast Obama as being communistic. But then I don't get the impression that any American commentators are bothering to read what Pravda is saying. How can any serious journalist discuss Putin's Times op-ed (and what Putin's motives are) without reading what Putin's own newspapers are telling their own citizens about the subject? They publish online in both Russian and English, so there's no excuse not to.

    September 13, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  22. dan

    i am 100% agreed with you Mr. Gingrich. only fools will listen to Putin.

    September 13, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  23. TheTraveler

    "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."

    Way to put us all straight Newt. BTW, I don't need, nor do I want, anyone the likes of you telling me how I should react either. So now, I'll laugh at you, philandering putz.

    September 13, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  24. Guest

    Putin might be thug, but its also important our leaders don't behave like one. If you have any concerns you should address out objects and concerns through diplomatic way, I think we have put a people and process for that. Blame on NY Post for entertaining such activities on. Had we handled Syria in a right way in the beginning, we wouldn't have to hear suggestions from others.

    September 13, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  25. Batman

    Agreed with mr G.!

    September 13, 2013 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
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