CNN's Peter Beinart: Trump's Relationship With Putin "Underscores The Degree To Which Trump Has Authoritarian Tendencies Himself"
Beinart: "There Has Been This Weird Strain In The Republican Party Of Admiring Putin Because He's Strong, Unlike Obama"
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From the December 18 edition of CNN's New Day:
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JOHN BERMAN (HOST): Donald Trump getting a vote of confidence from a man most world leaders prefer to distance themselves from, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin called Trump bright, talented, saying he's the absolute leader in the U.S. presidential race, and now Donald Trump is returning the love. Peter Beinart is the CNN Political Commentator and Associate Professor at the City University of New York. Peter, let me read you the Trump response. In some ways it's more interesting than what Vladimir Putin said. Trump says, "It is always a great honor be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond. I've always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism, restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect." He calls Putin a man so highly respected in his own country and beyond.
PETER BEINART: Right, well, it's revealing because Putin of course is not a democrat. He's not democratically elected, he's an authoritarian leader. It just underscores the degree to which Trump has authoritarian tendencies himself, right? He sees Putin as a great leader, Putin is in fact a guy that trampled all over Russian democracy. And indeed I think Trump has some of the same tendencies here at home.
BERMAN: It isn't the type of endorsement most candidates running for president would seek. Because let me tell you, Vladimir Putin's approval ratings in the United States right now. Pew university did a poll back, I guess, in February, favorable 10 percent, unfavorable 76 percent. So why on earth would Donald Trump brag about being liked by a guy who is so wildly unpopular?
BEINART: There has been this weird strain in the Republican Party of admiring Putin because he's strong, unlike Obama. And I think that's what Trump is getting at here, he's saying Putin respects me because I'm strong, he doesn't respect Obama. It's also worth remembering that Trump is the one Republican who has endorsed the Russian air strikes in Syria, saying that it's good that Russia is attacking ISIS. So, there's actually a policy overlap here between him and Putin as well.