Trump: Putin Bet­ter Leader Than Obama

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Don­ald Trump de­clared on Wednes­day that Rus­sia’s Vladimir Putin had been a bet­ter leader than US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, as the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee used a tele­vised fo­rum to ar­gue he was best equipped to re­assert Amer­ica’s global lead­er­ship. Trump sug­gested at the event in which he and Demo­cratic ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton made back-to-back ap­pear­ances that US gen­er­als had been stymied by the poli­cies of Obama and Clin­ton, who served as the Demo­cratic pres­i­dent’s first sec­re­tary of state. “I think un­der the lead­er­ship of Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton the gen­er­als have been re­duced to rub­ble. They have been re­duced to a point that’s em­bar­rass­ing for our coun­try,” Trump said at NBC’s “Com­man­der-in-Chief ” fo­rum in New York at­tended by mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. It was the first time Trump and Clin­ton had squared off on the same stage since ac­cept­ing their par­ties’ pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions in July for the Novem­ber 8 elec­tion. Clin­ton was grilled over her han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion while us­ing a pri­vate email server dur­ing her ten­ure at the State Depart­ment. FBI direc­tor James Comey had de­clared her “ex­tremely care­less” in her han­dling of sen­si­tive ma­te­rial but did not rec­om­mend charges against her. “I did ex­actly what I should have done and I take it very se­ri­ously, al­ways have, al­ways will,” she said. Trump’s praise of Putin and his sug­ges­tion that the United States and Rus­sia form an al­liance to de­feat Is­lamic State mil­i­tants could raise eye­brows among for­eign pol­icy ex­perts who feel Moscow is in­ter­fer­ing with ef­forts to stem the Syr­ian civil war.

“If he says great things about me, I’m go­ing to say great things about him,” Trump said of the Rus­sian pres­i­dent.

“Cer­tainly in that sys­tem, he’s been a leader, far more than our pres­i­dent has been.” Trump had called Obama “the founder of ISIS,” an acro­nym for Is­lamic State, in stump speeches sev­eral weeks ago.

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