- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2016

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said Friday that the Republican presidential ticket’s recently citing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strong leadership in his country compared to President Obama is “unpatriotic” and demonstrates an “irrational hostility” toward Mr. Obama.

Mr. Kaine was asked about GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s comments to CNN Thursday that it’s “inarguable” that Mr. Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Mr. Obama has been in the United States.

“My heart sunk when I heard this, because what about invading other countries is leadership?” Mr. Kaine said on “CBS This Morning.”

“What about running your economy into the ground is leadership? What about persecuting LGBT Russians is leadership? What about setting up journalists and imprisoning them and even killing them is leadership?” Mr. Kaine said.

“There’s a difference between dictatorship and leadership,” he said. “And if you don’t understand that, I mean, you wouldn’t get out of a fifth-grade civics exam if you don’t understand the difference between dictatorship and leadership.”

Mr. Kaine also said the sentiment demonstrates an “irrational hostility” toward Mr. Obama.

“Because [of] a state-run doping scandal, they just banned all Russian athletes — even Paralympians — from the Olympics,” he said. “That’s not leadership. But saying that Putin is a better leader than President Obama … I think it just betrays an irrationality and a hostility toward the president that is unpatriotic.”

Mr. Pence’s remarks echoed similar comments from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump earlier this week. Mr. Trump’s campaign, as well as Mr. Pence, have pointed out that Mr. Trump also said he doesn’t agree with the Russian system itself.

Mr. Kaine also said it’s “very clear” the Russians were behind the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The embarrassing hack prompted the departure of former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and high-level staffers after emails showed DNC officials openly musing about how to undermine the campaign of Sen. Bernard Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s top rival in the Democratic primary contest.

“At a minimum, it’s to delegitimize the election,” Mr. Kaine said.

In an interview that aired on a Russia-backed television station this week, Mr. Trump said he didn’t know who was behind the hacking and had no comment on Mr. Putin’s saying it was a public service.

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