WH doesn’t dispute Biden's description of Putin as ’dictator'
© Greg Nash

The White House refused Thursday to dispute Vice President Biden’s decision to call Vladimir Putin a “dictator,” a word the government does not typically use to describe the Russian leader. 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said “there is no official government designation about dictatorships,” when asked about Biden’s remark during his Wednesday night speech to the Democratic National Convention. 

Earnest cited an April State Department report on human rights that said Russia “has a highly centralized, authoritarian political system dominated by President Vladimir Putin” and that its civic institutions “lacked independence from the executive branch.”


Putin was overwhelmingly elected president in 2012, but his opponents alleged the contest was marred by widespread fraud. 

The spokesman stopped short of calling Putin a dictator, nor does the report use the word to describe him. 

Still, Earnest said, “You’d be hard pressed to draw a distinction between the word that Vice President Biden used and the language that was included in the State Department report.”

In a rousing speech in Philadelphia, Biden lashed out at Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE as someone who “belittles our closest allies” while “embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin.”

The eyebrow-raising comment came after Trump said he hoped Russia has obtain Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE’s private emails and releases them to the public. 

Trump later said he was being "sarcastic" in asking Russia to find and reveal Clinton's deleted emails from the private server she used while secretary of State.