By Jonathan Easley - 08/08/13 01:37 AM EDT
Two Republicans ripped President Obama for his handling of National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin was walking all over the U.S. because he perceives Obama as weak.
“It’d be nice if Russia and the United States could be friendly rivals,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s "Hannity" program.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) echoed that sentiment in the same segment.
“When you sit down and negotiate with someone like Putin, who is former KGB, I would add, you want to have a strong hand and you want to be the dominant personality, and those two things are very important,” King said. “If they neither fear you nor respect you, it’s going to be awfully hard to talk them into letting Snowden come back into the United States.”
“Putin looks into the eyes of Barack Obama and he would understand, if there was a strong personality there, a strong leader, and someone who was willing to put out a strategy, he would react to that,” King continued. “But instead, he’s pushing back on the United States…it’s hard for us to maintain our image in the world if we let him continue.”
Obama canceled a bilateral summit with Putin on Wednesday, citing Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Snowden as one of the reasons the administration would no longer engage Moscow at the highest level.
The president has been lauded by members from both sides of the aisle for the move, but Johnson and King insisted that it never should’ve gotten to this point.
Fox anchor Sean Hannity said Obama looked like a “wimp” in the way he’s dealt with Putin, and King concurred.
“I wouldn’t say you’re wrong on that,” he said.
Hannity asked Johnson if he thought it was “embarrassing” to watch Putin “poke us in the eye.”
“I think it is,” Johnson responded.