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Trump Continues His Embrace of Putin

After Vladimir Putin complimented Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate lavished praise on heavy-handed leader and U.S. adversary.
Image: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Holds Rally In Mesa, Arizona
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he arrives at a campaign event at the International Air Response facility on December 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. Trump is in Arizona the day after the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)Ralph Freso / Getty Images

After Russian President Vladimir Putin complimented Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate lavished praise on the heavy-handed leader and U.S. adversary.

Trump said Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that, "sure" he's happy about the nice things Putin said about him.

"When people call you 'brilliant' it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia," Trump said.

After the program's hosts pointed out that Putin kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries, Trump still embraced the Russian leader.

“At least he’s a leader unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said.

After the hosts repeated that he kills journalists and political opponents, Trump still avoided criticizing Putin.

“Our country does plenty of killing also,” Trump added.

Earlier this week, Putin said Trump is a “bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it.”

Trump’s has touted Putin's comments.

“It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond,” Trump said in a statement.

Putin has become a main adversary to the U.S. Tensions escalated once Putin re-entered office in 2012. Shortly after he invaded Crimea in Ukraine, further escalating tensions.

While Republican presidential candidates have talked tough in response to Putin on the campaign trail, often criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her “reset” with Russia shortly after President Barack Obama entered office in 2009. Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saying he would shoot down Russian planes over Syria if the U.S. and allies imposed a no-fly zone, most have been silent into Trump’s embrace of the Russian leader.

But former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has adopted the mantle of the Trump attack dog, has been the only candidate who has come out and criticized Trump on the issue.

Brian Walsh, Republican strategist at Rokk Solutions said Trump's comments are "a new level of outrageous."

He added that of any of the candidates that should respond, en. Ted Cruz should because of his refusal to ever criticize Trump.

Sen. Cruz's silence suggests he endorses (Trump's positions) in some way," Walsh said. "It shows a lack of leadership,"

UPDATE: Ohio Governor John Kasich has also now criticized Trump over Putin.

He tweeted this at 2:10 p.m. EST: