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Trump flaunts mutual fandom with Putin

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin
Getty Images/Russia Today

Repubican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Friday continued to flaunt his endorsement from Russian President Vladimir Putin, pointing to the oligarch’s popularity in his home nation.

“He’s a strong leader, he’s a powerful leader. He’s represented his country,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” though he conceded that Putin might run his own polling.

{mosads}”Certainly over the last couple of years they’ve respected him as a leader. I think he’s up in the 80s, where you see Obama is in the 30s and low 40s — and he’s up in the 80s,” Trump said of Putin’s popularity.

“I don’t know who does the polls, maybe he does the polls,” Trump added.

The Russian leader praised the celebrity real estate developer during his annual press conference on Thursday, calling him a “really brilliant and talented person.”

Trump, who has previously spoken warmly of Putin, said Thursday it was a “great honor” to be complimented by the Russian leader, who has received criticism for silencing opposition, stifling democratic reform, annexing the Crimean Peninsula and continuing to support the Syrian regime.

“Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough noted Friday that Putin “is a person who kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries.”

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in our country,” Trump responded.

“Again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” said Scarborough, a former Florida GOP representative.

“Well I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so…” Trump said, trailing off.

“You obviously condemn Vladimir Putin killing journalists and political opponents, right?” Scarborough asked.

“Oh sure, absolutely,” Trump responded.

GOP rivals such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have gone after Trump over his endorsement from Putin, who critics have blasted over his country’s response to events including the situation in Ukraine.

“To get praise from Vladimir Putin is not going to help Donald Trump,” Bush told CNN on Thursday evening.

Trump suggested Friday that Russia could be a “great asset” to the U.S. if the two nations had a better relationship, suggesting it could be “a positive force” while mentioning the fight against Islamic extremists.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Scarborough Russia Vladimir Putin

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