While GOP 2016 presidential frontrunner Donald Trump declared he doesn't want the endorsement of rival Jeb Bush should he become the party's eventual nominee, the brash billionaire on Thursday picked up the support of no less than Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
A report in The New York Times citing Russia's official Interfax newswire said Putin praised Trump Thursday after his year-ending conference in Moscow and called him "a very bright and talented man and the absolute leader of the presidential race."
Trump who projects a tough-talking persona similar to that of Putin has frequently expressed admiration for the Russian leader, who is "a hockey-playing judo expert who can be found riding horses shirtless," according to the Times.
Trump believes Putin is a stronger leader than President Barack Obama.
"I think that I would probably get along with him very well," Trump said of Putin in October on CBS's "60 Minutes." "And I don't think you'd be having the kind of problems that you're having right now."
The relationship between the U.S. and Russia has been complicated in recent years by events like Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine and Putin's support of the Assad regime in Syria. Trump has criticized some of the Obama administration's foreign policies as "a disaster."
There was no such love on display from Trump's GOP rival Jeb Bush who called the real estate mogul a "chaos candidate who would be a chaos president" during the CNN debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday according to another report from the Times, Bush was looking into disavowing a pledge to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee. And getting wind of the report, Trump said he doesn't want an endorsement from Bush because he is "a low-energy person."
"I really don't want Jeb's endorsement, because he is a low-energy person and he does not represent strength, power and stamina, which are qualities our country desperately needs," Trump said in an email sent by his spokesperson, Hope Hicks according to the Times.
"But if he does not endorse and support me as the nominee, legally he cannot be on the ballot in many states so that would be the end of his candidacy — but that doesn't matter because he is not going to win anyway," Trump said. "While everyone said I beat him last night, I was only responding to his desperate attempt to stay relevant by attacking me. Everybody said I won the debate last night," added Trump.