New York, Sept 8: Praising Vladimir Putin, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said the Russian President was "far more" of a leader than US President Barack Obama and asserted that he would have a "very good relationship" with the Kremlin strongman if he comes to power.
"I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia," Trump said at a 'commander in chief' forum on the decommissioned USS Intrepid, now a floating museum, here on Wednesday.
The forum hosted by NBC brought Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton together just weeks before they square off at the first presidential debate on September 26.
However, Clinton and Trump did not come face to face at the forum as they were grilled back-to-back by the anchor. Trump asserted that he would have a very good relationship with many foreign leaders, unlike President Obama, who he said was not accorded a red carpet welcome when he went to China recently.
"I think it's very sad, when you look at Barack Obama, as an example, lands Air Force One in China, and they don't want to put out stairs to get off the plane. And he has to use the stairs that mechanics use to get up and down to fix the plane. They wouldn't give him stairs," the 70-year-old real estate tycoon said.
"I think it's very sad, when he lands in Saudi Arabia, and he lands in Cuba, and there aren't high officials to even greet him. This is the first time in the history -- the storied history of Air Force One," Trump said.
Trump said while Obama and Putin do not get along, he will have very good relations with the Russian leader. "And I saw, just two or three days ago, they looked like they were not exactly getting along, but I looked at President Obama and Putin staring at each other. These were not two people that were getting along," he said.
He (Putin) is really very much of a leader, says Donald Trump
"And, you know, the beautiful part of getting along, Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldnt it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS? Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing," Trump asserted.
Asked if he would like to be complimented by a leader who "annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports (President Bashar) Assad in Syria, Trump said if Putin "says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him."
"I've already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing -- the man has very strong control over a country," he said.
Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Putin, who last year praised the US businessman as "very outstanding."
Putin "has very strong control over a country," Trump said. "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."