Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a better leader for his country than President Obama has been for the U.S.


King made the comment a day after GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE made headlines by saying that Putin has "been a leader, far more than our president has been."

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarville repeats prediction that Trump will drop out of race What's behind Trump's slump? Americans are exhausted, for one thing Trump campaign reserves air time in New Mexico MORE criticized her opponent's comparison during a press conference on Thursday, calling Trump's statement "unpatriotic."

When asked about Trump’s remark, King maintained that Putin has been the stronger of the two leaders.

“I think that [Putin has been a stronger leader] because I watched as the Russian nationalism has been increased substantially,” King said in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday.

“The Sochi Olympics, he put something like $50 billion into that. And you have Russian hyper-nationalism and they are proud of being Russians today.”

MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson then pressed King, asking him about numerous problems for which Putin has been criticized in the past.

“But what about the human rights issues, Congressman? What about the press access issues? Does that not give you cause for concern?” she said.

“It’s still Russia, I don't deny that,” the lawmaker replied, clarifying that his view refers to the geopolitical “chessboard” between the two superpowers.

“But also we watched as President Obama has backed away from some of our positions along that line between us and the Russians and Putin regrettably has pushed into those soft spots.”

“I think we need to be aware of that the American dominance in the world has retreated because of ... direct orders from Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Trump grows weak as clock ticks down How Obama can win back millions of Trump voters for Biden Biden taps Obama alums for high-level campaign positions: report MORE and that has allowed Putin to be more robust,” he added.