Washington: Slamming fellow presidential aspirant Donald Trump for praising Vladimir Putin, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush today said the Russian President was not an ally but a "bully" and "dictator".
"Putin is organised to challenge the United States across the world now. He views his success by pushing us back. We're losing influence around the world, and Putin is gaining influence. He's not an ally. He's a dictator. He's a bully," Bush told CBS News.
"He has nothing to do, nothing to admire with him, other than fact that he's strong. And we can admire that. We can respect that. But he admires strength, too," Bush said as he lashed out at Trump -- the current front-runner of the Republican presidential race -- for praising Putin.
"We need a president that actually will stand up for American interests, whether it's in Europe or in the Middle East. And that's how you create a better relationship with Putin. You don't brag about how great a guy he is. He's not. He kills journalists. Anybody that opposes him ultimately is pushed away," Bush said.
In the last few months Bush's popularity has dipped where as that of Trump's continues to soar. At a rally in New Hampshire, Bush said Trump is a "jerk".
"(Trump has) come out saying that Putin is a strong man and a great guy, when he's trying to destabilise our relationship with our allies. He's not a serious candidate," Bush argued.
Appearing on the NBC News, Trump claimed that Bush would soon be out of the race.
"Jeb is a weak and ineffective person. He's also a low-energy person, which I've said before, but he's a weak and ineffective person. If he were president, it would just be more of the same. He's got money from all of the lobbyists and all of the special interests that run him like a puppet," Trump alleged.
"He's got two per cent in the polls. I have 41 per cent in the latest poll. He's going to be off the stage soon. He's an embarrassment to the Bush family," Trump said.
Responding to a question on Putin, Trump said the Russian president is a strong leader.
"You would like me to call him a weak leader. He's a strong leader. I'm not going to be politically correct. He's very popular within Russia. Now, that may change. He came out with a very nice statement about me and I said that's very nice, I'm honoured by it," he said.
"It would be very nice if we got along with Russia. It's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. It would be a positive thing if Russia and the United States actually got along and they could work to the mutual good of getting rid of ISIS and clean things up. I mean right now, we don't get along with them at all," he added.