In Vladimir Putin’s view, Donald Trump is “bright and talented”.
“Well, I mean, it’s also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not”, Scarborough asked.
Trump pointed to his experience as a dealmaker and said that while some see Russia as a problem for the United States – most in the Republican Party have described Russia as the U.S.’s top global adversary – Trump said one “could also see Russia being a really big asset to our country”. “Unlike what we have in this country”.
Scarborough replied incredulously, “Again he kills journalists who don’t agree with him?”
“I got to know him very well because we were both on ’60 Minutes, ‘ we were stable mates, and we did very well that night”, he said in the fourth GOP debate, touting the show’s ratings.
“I think President Obama has effectively managed our relationship with Russia in a way that has advanced the interests of the United States, while also standing up for the basic worldwide norms that Russia violated based on their activities along and across the Ukrainian border”, he said, referring to Russia’s support for Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Lot of killing going on, a lot of stupidity, and that’s the way it is.
Scarborough was left visibly stunned.
Mr Trump is now widely regarded as the frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential ticket, a race where other candidates have made no secret of their wariness of Mr Putin.
Trump said in a statement that he was honored by the comments.
Putin’s daughters, Maria and Katerina, born in 1985 and 1986 respectively according to his official biography, are kept away from the limelight and the Russian president rarely discusses his personal life.
As recently as Thursday night, Trump rival Jeb Bush said it was a nod of approval he wouldn’t have wanted.
“We don’t know that yet”, said Putin, when asked if there was a “third party” involved in the downing of the Russian jet.
Trump was quick to return the compliment, saying it was a “great honour” to get praise from Putin and that he would “get along very well” with the Russian leader. Putin’s position in his country is bolstered by the Russian government’s control over much of the Russian news media.
“Oh, sure”, Trump said. “But I think that I would probably get along with him very well”.
Trump prides himself on his straight talk and often attacks his opponents for being “low-energy” or lacking the “strength and stamina” to be president, touting instead the need for a “strong” leader like himself.