Donald Trump backed off his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Wednesday rally in Henderson, Nevada.
The Republican nominee denied that he “loves” Putin and slammed the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for suggesting he does.
Nevertheless, he still said he’d be open to the US working with Russia in the future to fight terrorism.
“Foreign countries like Russia and China do not respect us,” Trump said. “Do you ever see Hillary Clinton when she wants to talk tough about Putin? They say, ‘Donald Trump loves Putin.'”
He spread his arms and shook his head, then continued: “I don’t love. I don’t hate. We’ll see how it works. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll have a good relationship. Maybe we’ll have a horrible relationship. Maybe we’ll have a relationship right in the middle.”
Trump then brought up his oft-repeated suggestion that Russia could be useful to the US in the Middle East.
“I can say this — if we got along with Russia and Russia went out with us and knocked the hell out of ISIS, that’s OK with me, folks,” he said, to cheers. “That’s OK with me.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, distanced himself from the Russian leader this week, characterising him as “small” and “bullying” during the vice presidential debate on Tuesday. Trump has often been criticised for saying Putin is a “strong” and “highly respected” leader.
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