July 27th, 2014
12:14 PM ET
6 years ago

Amid world crises, Pelosi praises Obama's 'strong leadership,' while Graham blasts his 'passive responses'

Washington (CNN) – Amid the push for peace in the Middle East and the push for reduced tensions between Russia and the Ukraine, how much has President Barack Obama's leadership helped mitigate those dire situations?

Two top members of Congress offered starkly different characterizations on Sunday.  While one praised the President's "strong" leadership, the other accused Obama of being "AWOL," serving up "passive responses to naked aggression all over the world."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, offered their thoughts to CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley during interviews on CNN's "State of the Union."

Is it bad optics, Pelosi was asked, for the president to attend fundraisers as parts of the world seemingly blow up around him?

"The president's leadership has been very strong," Pelosi said, not directly addressing the fundraising.

Pelosi continued, addressing tensions between Israeli forces and Hamas.  On Sunday, Hamas said it agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire, mediated by the United Nations.  Yet Israel resumed its attacks on Gaza on Sunday because of what it called "incessant rocket fire" from Gaza.

On the Mideast tensions, Pelosi continued by mentioning Israel's defense system – known as Iron Dome - that detects, analyzes, targets and frequently destroys incoming rockets from Gaza using interceptor missiles.

"The issues that you're dealing with this morning, the President was in the lead on supporting Iron Dome and asking for more resources now to help Israel defend itself, which it has a right to do.  In the lead for asking for humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people, something like $47 million to go through the U.N. to help those.  Calling upon others to help negotiate not only a cease-fire but a peace there," Pelosi said.  "The President and Secretary Kerry's presence there is a manifestation of the President's commitment because it's a sustained high-level commitment of the secretary of state representing the administration."

Graham could not disagree more.

In a separate interview with Crowley, the South Carolina Republican also discussed Obama's leadership amid crisis.

"America is the glue that holds the free world together.  And when you see us missing, or AWOL, as President Obama has been, you see fracturing on multiple fronts," the senator said.

Graham continued: "Russia is more aggressive, not less.  The sanctions clearly are not working.  Hamas is demanding open borders. …These are stark contrasts and we're not responding. Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy."

Regarding tensions in the Ukraine, the lawmakers also disagreed.

Pelosi noted that "the President early on called for sanctions" and ultimately sought "even stronger ones."

"Nobody's missing in action in all of this," she said regarding the criticism lodged against Obama.

Ascribing some of Putin's actions to "insecurity," Pelosi said, "So as far as Putin is concerned, he's a KGB guy who happens to be the president of Russia. And he's going to do what he's going to do no matter who else is in charge in the other places in the world."

Graham again stressed a theme of a "passive response" by the President.

"The Ukraine has asked for weapons to defend itself for months – and we're still thinking about it," Graham said.  "The Europeans can't lead without America setting the standard.  They're a dysfunctional political organization, Europe is.  And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world, you see people like Putin, who has an economy the size of Italy, he's playing a poker game with a pair of twos and winning."

What should Obama do, in Graham’s estimation?

"I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included," Graham said.  "I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukranian military."


soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Tommy G

    Is it bad optics, Pelosi was asked, for the president to attend fundraisers as parts of the world seemingly blow up around him?
    "The president's leadership has been very strong," Pelosi said, not directly addressing the fundraising.

    Pelosi didn't answer the question that was asked. Why wasn't she again asked to answer the question? Why was she allowed to give an answer to a question that was not asked? I guess because the interviewer didn't really care enough to get an answer to the question.

    And of course, the delusional Pelosi decides to answer with a statement that the majority of the American people know is a total lie. Obama is without a doubt the weakest most dithering, red lie drawing non-engaged. i-vote-present President this country has ever seen. Heck, you even have Democrats like Dianne Feinstein (yes, far left Democrat Feinstein) saying it would be nice if Obama was more engaged. The ONLY thing Obama is leading is in the number of campaign fund raisers he is now going to at our expense. 3 days out of five raising money while the world and our border is in turmoil? This is the Democrats' definition of "strong leadership"!!

    July 27, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Getting us into unnecessary wars is what RWNJs think is leadership. Keeping us out of wars is real leadership. Fixing the mistakes of the worst president in history is not easy when republicans have obstructed government to make Obama a one termer, got our credit rating lowered, and shutdown government costing us $24 billion.

    July 27, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    If a tree falls in the forest, is Lizzie still wrong. The answer is "yes!"

    July 27, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Smitty

    Again Obammy is lost when needed. Sending Nan out to cover is getting old. Putin (like Mr Romney stated) is having his way with America and the rest of the world. Question is whats the diff of Putin shooting down a plane and Holder and Obammy giving guns to the cartel ?? Both are causing death. Is there anyone in DC who has any common sense??

    July 27, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Tom

    Lindsay Graham is an echo of John McCain-they plan their Sundays around TV talk shows and have nothing positive to say. Thank God neither one has any real power as we would be in wars around the globe if they were to have their way. "Victory with Honor" in Iraq, troops stationed in Afghanistan for decades, no-fly zones in Syria and Libya, and more weapons supplied to Ukraine. In case you did didn't read it in your preparation for appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Lindsay, the EU has finally agreed to go along with stronger sanctions against Russia despite the possible economic consequences...a sane decision rather than a TV appearance.

    July 27, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    I declare, what has that feckless dimwit from SC done, other than remote war? The lengths Lindsay goes to parrot John McWar is crazy.

    July 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. Smitty

    Crowley, as usual was an excuse piece for this admins failures. Well at least she is loyal, but im sure her ratings are falling. One excuse after another is getting very, very old.

    July 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    Promote war, not remote.

    July 27, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Shrub lovers sure overlook the total ineptness of the reign of error from the Texas tumbleweed.

    July 27, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Blake

    The opposite of "passive responses" is "aggressive responses." So far I haven't heard any Republicans except Graham and McCain (to their credit for being honest) come out and say they are for some troops on the ground. No one wisely wants a military solution to Ukraine because:

    a) it would likely trigger an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces before troops get there on the basis of a US/Nato invasion of Ukraine
    b) Nato forces would have to call Russia's bluff and go in anyways to stop said invasion or turn around giving Russia a Huge win
    c) Calling the bluff would most likely lead to a real War with Russia, causing the the collapse of the European economies and by extension the worlf recovery.
    d) The only way to end the conflict would be to take out Russia, in which bvefore that could happen Russia would nuke the front lines, leading to the worst case scenario feared in the cold war, just in Ukraine/Russia instead of East/West Germany.

    The other option, the "passive" one, is to use the might of western economies to influence/punish Russia (Sanctions). Its pretty obvious Putin did not think the US would get as many countries as it did to agree to united and numerous sanctions against them. It only seems the sanctions will get worse now, but it will take many more months or even years for Russia to really feel it (as it did with South Africa and Apartheid and Iran with their Nuke Program). That credit goes a lot to Obama because he held off the "talking tough" Presidents usually get into and instead quietly gathers support and not getting into Propaganda squabbles with Putin. If he was more aggressive in tone and action I bet the Russians would have used it to invade Ukraine on the pretext he already set up: Western/Ukraine fascists trying to wipe out ethnic Russians.

    July 27, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Smithead – Truth is not as popular as the Fox shows conspiracy theories. Proving lies are more entertaining, Fox lies, you believe.

    July 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Gunderson

    Nancy Pelosi,
    The one that said, We need to pass this bill to see what's in it. That Nancy Pelosi ??? Maybe she has a Bridge to sell you. P.T. Barnum was right.

    July 27, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. GOP = Greed Over People

    "I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included," Graham said. "I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukranian military."

    So, the House GOP baggers can say NO? Just like they have with the border funds?

    Stupid is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. For example, 40+ bills repealing Obamacare(s) that went nowhere, after house GOP passage.

    This request proves Ms. Graham is stupid, however, the President is not.

    July 27, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. HenryMiller

    "Amid world crises, Pelosi praises Obama's 'strong leadership,'"

    Yeah, I'm sure Obama strongly leads his coterie of sycophants from one hole to the next at the golf course.

    July 27, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. 2_indy1600

    Attempts by politicians to legitimize Hamas truly show their real colors. Tunnels are just hidden, sneaky aggression. Who's destroying the tunnels at our southern borders, hmmmm?

    July 27, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. barryinlasvegas

    It is harder to say who is dumber Pelosi or Harry Reid.

    July 27, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. truindep

    Strong Leadership, We must not be looking at the same President – Pelosi has now officially lost what ever was left of her mind

    July 27, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |

    Who cares? Graham and the Chamber of Commerce owned GOP will stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down. Straight no chaser. Hillary will drink to that!

    July 27, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Spgfld Tom

    Did everyone catch the Pelosi photo op with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvadore? Priceless! How many of Obama's "unaccompanied minors" will Nancy be housing at her California estate?

    July 27, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. jinx9to88

    If a Republican was president there wouldn't be know one left here in the United States except the GOP representatives cause we would all be over in the middles east and Ukraine fighting wars. Notice how the GOP have no problem sending everyone else kids to war!! Romney had five boys and not one joined the military. Funny isnt it?

    July 27, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. rosethornne

    "Grahama".... gotta love that typo.

    Best unintentional characterization yet.

    July 27, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. NYNJCT

    What the delusional Pelosi is talking about the leadership of Obama? Where are you ? She might be comes from Mars.
    I've found any leadership from Owebama. Pelosi has to go home.

    July 27, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Greg C.

    Anything coming out of the mouth of Pelosi is wasted air...

    July 27, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. MaryM

    When all you guys can do is call people names, why should anyone put any merit in your opinion. Children call people names and children are not prepared to know what is best our country.

    July 27, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Chuck


    July 27, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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