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"When Donald Trump and I said that the small and bullying president of Russia was a strong leader on the world stage, that wasn't an endorsement of Vladimir Putin, that was an indictment of the weak and feckless leadership of this president and [Hillary Clinton]," Pence said at the Liberty Farms Festival in Paris, Virginia.
He was responding directly to Hillary Clinton's vice presidential pick Tim Kaine, who said Pence and Trump "need to be called out as unpatriotic" for their comments on Putin.
At a national security forum hosted by NBC earlier this week, Trump said Putin "has been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader," although he added that he doesn't "like" Russia's "very different system."
Asked on Thursday if he agrees with Trump, Pence told CNN, "I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country."