NEW YORK, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Donald Trump said Tuesday he might meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the inauguration in January if he is elected president.
The Republican nominee made the comments in a radio interview with conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage on the The Savage Nation. Trump is a frequent guest on the nationally syndicated show.
"If I win on Nov. 8, I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration," he said.
"They insult him constantly — I mean, no wonder he can't stand Obama and Hillary Clinton," Trump said.
He called U.S. relations with Russia the "worst situation that we've had with Russia since the end of the Cold War, by far" and repeated his contention that Russia could be an ally in fighting the Islamic State.
Trump said Clinton "shouldn't be talking so tough" about Russia.
Clinton's campaign quickly responded to Trump's comments.
"It's unclear why Donald Trump needs to meet with Vladimir Putin on Nov. 9 since he's already repeating all his talking points, pushing his policy agenda and taking advantage of his espionage operation," spokesman Glen Caplin said. "Rest assured that as president, Hillary Clinton will stand up to Putin in the face of his unacceptable behavior, not coddle him."
Clinton's campaign previously released a video that noted Trump's connections to Russia.
Trump says he has no business interests in Russia.
Also Tuesday, Obama called Trump's praise of Putin "unprecedented" during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House's Rose Garden.
"Any characterization that somehow we have improperly challenged Russian aggression or have somehow tried to encroach on their legitimate interests is just wrong," he said. "And Mr. Trump's continued flattery of Mr. Putin and the degree to which he appears to model many of his policies and approaches to politics of Mr. Putin is unprecedented in American politics."
Moscow, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has supported pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, has been upset that the U.S. military has trained and conducted exercises with several hundred Ukrainian soldiers.
In a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday, 49 percent of Trump's supporters describe Russia as an ally or friendly nation.
Also, 32 percent of Republicans said in the poll they accept the Obama administration's conclusion that Moscow is attempting to influence the election through computer hacking.