POLITICS
10/27/2014 04:40 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2014

John Boehner Thinks George W. Bush Could Have Stopped Vladimir Putin

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) waxed nostalgic for the George W. Bush administration during a campaign stop in Iowa on Sunday, saying that Bush would never have let Russian President Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine.

Stumping for Republican congressional candidate David Young in Iowa's 3rd District, Boehner accused President Barack Obama of being too soft on Russia and Putin.

"Do you think anybody here believes that Vladimir Putin would have marched into Ukraine, into Crimea had George W. Bush been president of the United States? No!" Boehner said. "Even Putin's smart enough to know that Bush would've punched him in the nose in about 10 seconds."

But back when Bush actually was president, he wasn't exactly clamoring to wallop Putin. Rather, Bush said that he trusted him.

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy," Bush said at a press conference after meeting Putin in 2001. "We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."

When CNN's Jake Tapper asked Bush earlier this year if he had misjudged Putin in 2001, Bush said he did not regret his willingness to work with the Russian president.

"Of course a president should open the door, and give people a chance, except for the despicable tyrants," Bush said. "At that time, it looked like he wanted to work with the West."

Putin changed as a result of the rising price of oil, Bush told CNN.

"I think it changed his attitude. I think it emboldened him to follow an instinct that is pretty much zero-sum, I win, you lose and vice versa," Bush said. "I tried to convince him, and I'm sure the president has, that we both should win."

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