Obama Hammered over Chavez

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tore into President Barack Obama Monday for his friendly greeting of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying Obama is bolstering the “enemies of America.”

Gingrich appeared on a number of morning talk shows comparing Obama to President Jimmy Carter for the smiling, hearty handshake he offered Chavez, one of the harshest critics of the United States, during the Summit of the Americas.

“Frankly, this does look a lot like Jimmy Carter. Carter tried weakness, and the world got tougher and tougher, because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators – when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead,” Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) gives U.S. President Barack ... 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) gives U.S. President Barack Obama a copy of “Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina” during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad April 18, 2009. Chavez presented the U.S. president with a book, “The Open Veins of Latin America,” by left-wing Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. Obama accepted the gift with a smile. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace

Two Republican senators, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and John Ensign of Nevada, joined in the criticism Monday, with Ensign calling Obama’s greeting of Chavez “irresponsible.”

Obama addressed such criticism before he left the summit in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday, noting his “great differences” with Chavez and expressing concern for the Venezuelan president’s “inflammatory” rhetoric toward the United States and interference in neighboring Latin American countries

“It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States,” Obama told reporters at a news conference. “I don’t think anybody can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.”

While the White House felt Obama’s first foray into Latin America went well, officials seemed concerned that so-called “picture seen ‘round the world” of Obama greeting Chavez at the summit would generate such criticism back home.

The criticism is déjà vu for the Obama team. It is along the same line of what Obama’s opponents – Hillary Clinton, now secretary of State, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), said of him during the campaign, that he was too willing to talk to U.S. adversaries.

Read the rest from Politico:
http://www.politico.com/news/stor
ies/0409/21445.html

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