President Obama's handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders left many Republicans steaming.
Republican senator John Ensign of Nevada called it "irresponsible for the President to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez." Even the former vice president weighed in.
But eight years ago this week, it was a Republican laughing and joking with Chavez -- in of all places, Hickory.
It was the only U.S. stop Chavez made on his way back from a Summit of the Americas in Quebec. He spent two days with then-GOP Rep. Cass Ballenger, who hosted a barbecue dinner for the leftist leader at his home. The two also toured several businesses, including Ballanger's, and visited a day care center.
Ballenger, chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of International Relations, had met Chavez on a trip to Venezuela and said the two "hit it off."
Chavez took home a pair of baseball socks made for him at Catawba County Community College and a favorable impression of at least one corner of America.
"We've seen Cass' business, we spoke with his workers," Chavez said at the time. "This should be the idea of capitalism."