President Obama thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “shtick” is to try to look like a “tough guy.”
Putin, after all, has carefully crafted a no-nonsense public image as a rugged outdoorsman. He’s been photographed hunting, fishing and riding horses, all while bare-chested.
Despite appearing standoffish in meetings with Obama, the U.S. president said his Russian counterpart has always treated him with “respect” and that “there’s a surprising amount of humor” in their interactions.
“He does have a public style where he likes to sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews,” Obama told NBC News as the network kicked of its Olympic coverage. “I think that’s where some of these perceptions come up.”
“My sense is that’s part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy,” he said. “U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a while.”