Former President George W. Bush on Wednesday explained his past comment that when he looked Russian President Vladimir Putin in the eye, he saw a soul, saying now it was only because "Russia was broke."
Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush spoke with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo in Dallas Wednesday morning, the day after his mother Barbara Bush died at age 92.
Bartiromo asked Bush about his painting pursuits, in particular his painting of Putin.
"Well, what happened was when I looked into his eyes and saw a soul, Russia was broke, I mean short-term broke. And the price of oil goes up, and Putin changed. He's a very smart tactician," Bush said. "The problem is his whole attitude on most issues is ‘I'm going to win and U.S. is going to lose.'"
"He is a very aggressive person who wants to reinstate Soviet influence, even though the Soviet [Union] no longer exists, and therefore, I always felt it was very important for the United States to be very forceful in dealing with Putin. Not belligerent, but forceful," Bush said.
He wouldn't say if the U.S. was being forceful enough now, telling Bartiromo of his vow not to speak publicly ill about his successors. He added Russia's economy was not strong and the demographics there weren't positive.