US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has accused his Republican rival Donald Trump of having a “weird fascination with dictators.”
Speaking at a rally in Akron, Ohio, on Monday night, Clinton bashed Trump over his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He gets confused between leadership and dictatorship. He has a hard time remembering who our friends are and who are adversaries are. He has a weird fascination with dictators like Vladimir Putin,” she told her supporters.
Clinton said Trump “basically signs up for Putin’s wish list,” echoing the Democratic claim that, if elected, the New York businessman will bow to Moscow’s will.
“We have a lot of people living in this part of Ohio who, either themselves, their parents, or grandparents, came from countries that were under the yoke of oppression. And we are never going to let that happen again,” the former secretary of state said, while taking an indirect swipe at Russia.
Trump has long been accused by his opponents of, as The New York Times puts it, having a “crush” on Putin, an idea that gained more traction after he praised the Russian leader on several occasions during the primary race.
Throughout this year’s election cycle, the Clinton campaign has insisted that Trump should answer questions about his pro-Russian policy stances.
Clinton and her staff have gone as far as linking the real estate mogul to alleged Russian hackers that, according to American intelligence agencies, have targeted key Democratic Party organizations over the past few months.
Trump denied the allegations and sarcastically invited Russia to hack Clinton’s email. The response stirred more controversy and prompted a warning from Clinton’s team over what they called growing evidence of a foreign power “interfering in an American election.”
The issue was brought up in the two candidates’ first debate last week, where Clinton said there was “no doubt” that Russians were behind the cyber attacks.
Trump, however, advised against quickly blaming Russia for the issue as the attacks might have been carried out by China or “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
The anti-Russian rhetoric has elicited strong reactions from Moscow, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that American officials were “trying to camouflage some of their own shenanigans by demonizing Russia.”