Donald Trump defended his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday night by saying Putin has been more of a leader than US President Barack Obama.
NBC host Matt Lauer asked the Republican presidential nominee about his past statements on the Russian leader at a televised national security forum.
Trump didn’t back down from his glowing comments on Putin, saying that if someone says “great things” about him, he’ll return the favor.
“He is really very much of a leader,” Trump said of Putin. “You can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing,’ I mean, the man has very strong control over his country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”
“We have a divided country,” Trump concluded.
Putin has said that Trump is “very talented,” and Trump in turn said it was a “great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”
Trump has repeatedly said that if he wins the presidency in November, he’d like to strengthen ties with Russia and work with Putin to defeat the terrorist group ISIS.