President Barack Obama’s top spokesman suggested on Thursday that Donald Trump may not want Russian President Vladimir Putin’s endorsement.
Earlier in the day, Putin praised Trump as a “very talented” candidate, according to Reuters.
“He is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today,” Putin added.
Asked about Putin’s comments, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said “it sounds pretty close” to a campaign endorsement for the Republican front-runner.
“I guess it will be up to Mr. Trump to decide whether or not he’ll accept it,” Earnest added as he took questions during his regular media briefing.
Trump has embraced a far less aggressive approach to Putin than most of his rivals in the GOP primary. While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has called Putin a “gangster” and a “thug,” Trump argues that he could work well with Putin and frequently touts the fact that he was Putin’s “stablemate” during an episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that?” Putin was quoted saying of Trump. “Of course we welcome it.”
Earnest also said he didn’t have any particular thoughts about how a Trump administration would interact with Russia.
“I’ll say that I haven’t spent a lot of time contemplating the consequences of a Trump presidency,” he remarked.
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