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. Marcus

    I can't believe these words are coming out of my mouth; I agree with Newt Gingrich.

    September 13, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  2. Mark Stanfield

    It's a sad period in American history when I have more respect for the leader of the former soviet union, than I do anyone in my own government.

    Putin is a communist, but at least he admits it. We have a government of thieves and villains all pretending to be honorable.

    September 13, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  3. Kerin48

    You and the U.S. government are the thugs and bullies Gingrich!!! You and your cronies think that you are better than everyone and every country in the world! NOT TRUE!!! All you do is try for more and more power! I will never trust the U.S. government after the past 15 years!!!

    September 13, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  4. forestjoe

    Who is this congressman? And why did we elect non educated people lik einto the office. Based on this comment I didn't see any valid argument except personal attack.

    September 13, 2013 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  5. Jason

    HA! Just the headline has me cracking up. As if we could find an American less worthy of having his opinion heard, and with less credibility. Newt Gingrinch is a thug. He's a pompous, prejudiced blowhard on the political fringe. If he were born in Russia I have no doubt he would have been shoulder to shoulder with Putin on every authoritarian power grab he's taken.

    September 13, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  6. Rob

    CNN and all the other left wing extremist outlets portray Gingrich as a nut...have denied he Greatest Nation on earth of an exceptional leader! Gingrich is experienced and smart...but above all else, he is pro-American. How refreshing!

    September 13, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  7. Tomek

    OK, newt, but you are still not special.

    September 13, 2013 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  8. shahjahanbhatti

    Russia is helping Syria gain time to hide stockpiles of chemical weapons. Putin is following Iran to punish Arabs.Gingrich is right exposing him as a KGB agent.

    September 13, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  9. Thomas

    The Russian president is a one-time KGB officer whose primary interest is nationalism, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday.

    Gingrich is accurate on Putin's nationalist agenda , All the publicity he has been receiving makes it easier for him domestically to avoid issues such as corruption and graft .

    September 13, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  10. Behjat

    It makes me happy to see even people who have not been supporting President Obama in the past, show their support and let the world know what a disgusting character Putin is. Thank you Mr. Gingrich

    September 13, 2013 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Seriously now, why does anyone listen to anything Newt Gingrich has to say??

    September 13, 2013 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  12. Shah (Berlin)

    Shame..that as they dont have logical answers to Putins plee they are coming up with stuffs like ....i wanted to throw up or he is a thug....
    60 years ago Hitler said to its people tht they are exceptional and we all saw the result.....does America wants to repeat history again...????
    Secondly you freedom is at stake with NSA affair country is having a war at 2-3 different fronts....crisis are not over and a Peace winning President wants an unconditional can you even defend it ...!!!!!

    September 13, 2013 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  13. Jesse

    I'm not a Newt Gingrich fan but, I have to agree with Newt on this one.

    September 13, 2013 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  14. mark rodby

    As usual, Mr. G. seems uncommonly fond of himself. Mr. smug calling out Mr. thug. If we wanted fear mongering, hate and stupid we'd all tune in Fox. CNN, you're losing viewers with this jerk

    September 13, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  15. innersixx

    I venture to say most Americans agree with Putin that we are not more special than any other nation and need to stop policing the world and stop ignoring UN orders.

    September 13, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  16. innersixx

    I venture to say most Americans will agree we need to stop policing the world and that we are not more special than any other nation. Putin hit it on the head.

    September 13, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  17. pat Era

    What a wild way of contributing to public debate! It is hard to believe that Mr. Gingrich was once in US congress more so a former Speaker of that August body. To call the President of Russia a thug is highly irresponsible!!

    September 13, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  18. Four Two

    Gingrich isn't exactly a shining beacon of trust himself. Heck, him and Putin might as well be brothas from different mothas.

    September 13, 2013 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  19. Birchwood

    And what is Newt Gingrich... As History has shown... Possibly on the level of a Mugabwe

    September 13, 2013 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  20. WJP

    On a show of hands of 145 nations, 144 would vote USA to be the thug and bully of the world. They also will say that USA id run by stupid and incompetent thugs too.

    September 13, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  21. Eric

    Those are ad hominem attacks.

    September 13, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  22. Mendicant Bias Two

    Who cares what Gingrich thinks? This kid is an imbecile.

    September 13, 2013 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  23. BombayLace

    For the 1st time in my life I agree with Gingrich

    September 13, 2013 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  24. bill

    Newt Gingrich is a bad representation of our country.

    September 13, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  25. nukestrom

    Looks like we Americans are ashamed to learn the truth that we are not exceptional.

    September 13, 2013 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
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