Hillary Clinton joked that Russian president Vladimir Putin's ability to effectively decide when he was in office had a "certain attraction to it" during a question-and-answer session Wednesday at the Brookings Institution.
"I don't admire very much about Mr. Putin, but the idea you could stand up and say, ‘I will be your next president,’ that does have a certain attraction to it," Clinton said, drawing laughter from the audience.
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Clinton leads Democratic polls in her second bid for the presidency, but in the wake of the private email scandal she just apologized for, she has seen her standing slip. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has surged in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and Vice President Joe Biden is strongly considering jumping into the race.
Clinton's quip about Putin called to mind the Saturday Night Live impersonation of her as a power-hungry politician who insisted to "citizens" that "you will elect me, I will be your leader."
Clinton made the remarks after her speech defending the Iran nuclear deal at Brookings. Part of the discussion delved into the "reset" she oversaw while secretary of state, which has been seen as a failure with the collapse of U.S.-Russian relations since President Obama took office. Besides the joke about Putin's hold on power, she also spoke more seriously about Russia, according to Politico:
On a more serious note, Clinton said that she is "in the category of people who wanted to do more in reaction to the annexation of Crimea" last year. Russia's objective "is to stymie, to confront, to undermine American power whenever and wherever they can," she added in response to how the United States could control Putin's aggression on the European continent.