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. Janet Nappylotto

    – Russia is taking over Ukraine
    – Iraq is overrun by ISIS
    – China bullies our allies in the Pacific
    – Europe is unlikely to aid our causes because of the blatant NSA spying

    If this is a 'success' in Pelosi's and Obama's eyes, we are truly lost as a country.

    Queue in Obama-cult Blame Machine in 3... 2... 1...

    July 27, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. Smitty

    Timmy learned a new word!!! LOL !!!

    July 27, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. dave

    Everyday I ask myself how did he get to president

    July 27, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. Wes

    obama and pelosi are disasters.

    July 27, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Howie

    What kind of person would cast a vote for Nancy Pelosi?? These ppl are exactly what is wrong with our country. Total airheads.

    July 27, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Larry of Boston

    Pelosi praises a Democratic President - Gee, last week she praised a tree stump in San Francisco that had a profile resembling Bill Clinton

    July 27, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Larry of Boston

    The last time Crowley actually got a hard question answered by a politician, Woodrow Wilson was in office

    July 27, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Larry of Boston

    Nancy Pelosi's famous instructions to Democrats when passing Obamacare – you don't have to read the bill, you just have to pass it. You can read it later if you want

    July 27, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. deee510

    So Graham wants war with Russia? These republicans love to criticize president Obama but never give specifics of what they think should be done. Since Graham works for they government and is such a loud mouth offer solutions.we'll wait for it.

    July 27, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    Pelosi is absolutely the biggest CLOWN in Washington.

    Obama is a total disaster on EVERY single front.........domestic and foreign.

    July 27, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. badtobone

    No body but the followers listen to Pelosi.
    This is the same Pelosi the American people voted out of speaker in 2010

    July 27, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. yippeeskip

    Pelosi, IMHO, is irrelevant....

    July 27, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. carol baltzell

    There is no reason for Obama to address congress for anything. The RWNJ like Grahm have already made up their minds to do anything. Much less back Obama's call for more sanctions agaist Russia. And I know he is not suggesting that the US should spend more money on Ukraine.

    July 27, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Thomas

    If this doesn't prove how delusional this woman is, nothing will. Congratulations California, you voted in a dingbat.

    July 27, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. carol baltzell

    It is crazy how the republicans can talk about action when they are the very worst people in the country. Graham and the rest of the crazy republicans are all talk and no action. The rest of the republicans just parrot everything they here.

    July 27, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. National Socialist Progressive Communist Democrat Party

    Harry Reid: "The border is secure."

    Nancy Pelosi: "Obama... strong leadership."

    Obama: Liar of the Year

    Are you beginning to see the pattern America???

    July 27, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. Aristotles

    I'm waiting for Pelosi's memoir to come out, with her own stories of how she smoked the outrageous pot in her college days. "During VietNam, I took off my bra and made it into a bong."

    July 27, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Poor little Lindsey. His thong and bustier must be squeezing the blood circulation to his head!

    July 27, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Number

    These Republicans just love war! Give Ukraine our weaponry says Graham.....so they could end up in the hands of the rebels and ultimately Putin. Smart.

    July 27, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  20. Zeke

    Since Pelosi said this illegal immigration is an "Opportunity" let's seize the moment and send all of the children from Central America already here to her congressional district for disposition. Set up a tent city with all good facilities in her home town and let's see what her neighbors say. I bet Pelosi rues the day she said "We Pass the law and then read it to find out what is in it" one of the more comical and dumb statements by anyone in politics has ever said.

    July 27, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. Jack

    "Israelis Reject Cease-Fire Deal." LIARS !!

    July 27, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  22. Zeke

    What about all the children in the Ukraine, Syria and Palestine? They are in much more danger than Central American children, why not send ships to bring them to the United States? That would be a humanitarian gesture hard to beat. Why should Central American children get priority on immigration over Mexican children. Mexico has rampant crime and drug activities, but why does Obama discriminate against Mexican or Canadian children by giving priority to Central American children. I am sure Obama will soon find a way to include adults too, so Mexico has a right to ask why.

    July 27, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. dc

    Now, if we could get rid of Pelosi....come on Calif. get rid of her......

    July 27, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. Lizzie

    Tampa Tim
    If a tree falls in the forest, is Lizzie still wrong. The answer is "yes!"
    -–so glad you are thinking of me. Hope you have a nice day.

    July 27, 2014 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. anthony

    want to play with Putin , you have to play hard ball. He doesnt care because the sanctions are the jokes. the Europeans dont do nothing bcause they always look at. Americans

    July 27, 2014 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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