Republican presidential candidates trailing Donald Trump are making it clear they don’t want the same endorsement the billionaire businessman and entertainer got from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Last week, Putin said Trump is “a very bright and talented man.” In response, Trump said he appreciated “when people call you brilliant” and that “it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.”
No thanks, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in so many words on the Sunday political talk shows. Even Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate, weighed in.
“What’s next, Fidel Castro?” Perry said on a panel on “State of the Union” on CNN.
Rubio said Trump shouldn’t be honored by Putin’s praise.
“He’s jailed and murdered journalists, political opponents,” Rubio said. “He bombed an apartment building as a pretext to attack the Chechens. He is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine because he provided the anti-aircraft weaponry that was used for that.”
In a phone interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” Trump said he would “get along fine with Putin.”
“If Russia wants to bomb the hell out of ISIS and join us in that effort, I am absolutely fine with it,” he said. “That’s an asset, not a liability. So if Putin respects me, and if Putin wants to call me brilliant and other things that he said which were, frankly, very nice, I’ll accept that, and I’ll accept that on behalf of our country, because if we get along well with Russia, that’s a positive thing, George, not a negative thing.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Trump about his comment that “our country does plenty of killing, too,” a remark Trump made when asked about Putin killing journalists.
“As far as the reporters are concerned, obviously I don’t want that to happen,” Trump said. “I think it’s terrible — horrible. But, in all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has. Have you been able to prove that?”
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