Donald Trump said he would be willing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin before Inauguration Day if he is elected president, breaking sharply with precedent and showing little compunction over stepping on the heels of President Obama's final months in office.
"Putin has no respect at all for Obama. And I think that you have potentially a really catastrophic situation here, I'll be honest with you," Trump told conservative radio host Michael Savage during an interview. "I will say this, if I win on November 8th ... I think I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration. I think it would be wonderful."
Trump said that U.S.-Russian relations are at their worst point since the Cold War and blamed Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for the frosty relationship.
"The problem is Putin has no respect for Obama, at all, doesn't like him and doesn't respect him. And Obama doesn't like Putin. They have a great dislike for each other," Trump said. "They insult him constantly. I mean, no wonder he can't stand Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Trump told Savage that he believes he's actually ahead in the polls, which show him trailing Clinton, and cited "tremendous enthusiasm" and crowd sizes at his rallies as evidence.