Putin in 2016

March 8, 2014

In their latest effort to try to discredit President Obama, Republicans in Congress have been practically swooning over Putin, which led one commentator to wonder whether Vladimir Putin is the GOP’s newest frontrunner for 2016. Here’s how to talk about Republicans’ penchant for Putin, and additional guidance on how to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. 

TOPLINES

Republicans in Congress have been practically cheering for Putin and trying to cast Obama as weak, but what they’re really doing is undermining our standing in the world.

The last time Vladimir Putin recklessly used Russian military might in Georgia in 2008, we didn’t hear the GOP calling George Bush weak because everyone understood the dangers of escalating a crisis with a nuclear-armed Russia.

Instead, Republicans are hailing Putin as a decisive leader who is tough andstrategic. The Daily Caller posted an online poll asking whether Obama or Putin would make a better president, and actual CPAC attendees answered that they would prefer President Putin.

Republicans started out the week fawning over Putin, now some of them are suggesting they would rather have him lead our country. At this rate, Putin seems to be the GOP frontrunner for 2016

 KEY:  Connect with your audience |  Make your case | Show how your opponents differ


ATTACKS & RESPONSES

ATTACK: Obama’s reaction to events in Ukraine makes us look weak.

RESPONSE:

  • President Obama needs to react strongly to Russia’s meddling in Ukraine, but as Commander-in-Chief he must keep this crisis in perspective. The U.S. relationship with Russia cannot be defined by this single issue because the U.S. needs:
    • Continued Russian support for the sanctions against and negotiations with Iran;
    • Russian buy-in for a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict, including the continued destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons;
    • Russian cooperation for the transportation of supplies into and out of Afghanistan – this would put our troops in danger since US logistics currently move through Russia and former Soviet Republics; and
    • Implementation of the new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) agreement.
ATTACK:Putin is a strong, decisive leader and Crimea wants to be part of Russia.

RESPONSE:

  • Putin interfered in Crimea because Ukraine’s pro-Russian government was replaced by a pro-western government. That’s a reaction based on fear, not strength.
  • It’s not a free and fair election when someone holds a gun to your head in the voting booth, and that’s what happening in Crimea right now.