Hillary Clinton picked her words carefully when the NBC debate moderators asked her about her relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "It's…interesting," she said, smiling at her own word choice. Clinton went on to say that she and Putin mutually respect each other, but that Putin is "someone you have to consistently stand up to."
Unlike her opponents on stage, Clinton has direct experience working with Putin from when she served as Secretary of State. In her book Hard Choices, Clinton described Putin as "disciplined and fit, a practitioner of judo, and he inspired hope and confidence among Russians still reeling from so much political change and economic adversity." However, she didn't shy away from criticizing the president, either: "He also proved over time to be thin-skinned and autocratic, resenting criticism and eventually cracking down on dissent and debate, including a free press and NGOs."
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