Some say president overly chummy with Chavez. Love it or Hate it? - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Some say president overly chummy with Chavez. Love it or Hate it? Leave your comments.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is criticizing President Obama's performance at the just-concluded Latin summit, saying he bestowed a sense of legitimacy upon Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

The Georgia Republican said in a nationally broadcast interview Monday that "enemies of America" are going to use the image of a smiling Obama shaking Chavez's hand as "proof that Chavez is now legitimate, is acceptable."

Chavez has been one of the harshest critics of the United States in that part of the world. Obama, though, said Sunday that he didn't think extending a cordial greeting to Chavez would be "endangering the strategic interests of the United States." Gingrich appeared on NBC's "Today" show.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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