Americans are united against Vladimir Putin, and that could prove to be a problem for former President Donald Trump.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in March found that regardless of political affiliation, about 9 in 10 Americans don’t have confidence in Putin to do the right thing regarding world affairs, a record high since Pew began polling on the question in 2006.
While Republicans once tended to have a more favorable view of Putin, pro-Putin Republicans have always been a minority in their party. Today, they’re even more outnumbered. The slight partisan gap that existed between Democrats and Republicans beginning in the late 2010s vanished following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
When asked if Trump’s comments on Putin would help or hurt him if he ran for president again, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wouldn’t answer the question during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I don’t think it’s a conversation worth having,” he said.
Cornyn was unequivocal about his own stance, and said he wouldn’t trust Putin “any farther than I could throw him. I think that’s really the answer, because Putin is a killer. He’s a thug.”
Cornyn isn’t alone in not wanting to talk about Trump’s stance on Russia; other Republicans have dodged questions about Trump’s comments on Putin before.
Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, though, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that Trump’s comments were unacceptable.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Trump would make that statement, but it’s about the worst possible thing you can do when all these atrocities are taking place in Ukraine and Putin’s aggression is what the focus is,” Hogan said. “For a former president to try to drag politics into that is just completely unacceptable.”
One factor in Trump’s favor is recent polling found a shrinking percentage of Americans remember details of Trump’s record on Russia and Ukraine. Trump temporarily withheld military aid from Ukraine in 2019 and asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to announce an investigation into the Biden family, and Russia aided Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Pew’s poll found 72% of Americans have confidence that Zelenskyy will do the right thing regarding world affairs, the highest of any world leader polled. Just 48% said they have confidence in Biden, less than French President Emmanuel Macron (55%) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (53%).