The Washington Post

McCain, Rubio agree with Clinton’s Putin-Hitler comparisons

Two leading GOP critics of the Obama administration's foreign policy said Wednesday that they agree with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's comparison of Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine to actions taken by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler outside Germany in the run-up to World War II.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), photographed in November 2010. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) endorsed her comments, saying that he's made a similar point in recent days. "If Putin is allowed to go into a sovereign nation on behalf of Russian-speaking people, this is the same thing that Hitler did prior to World War II. He went into the Sudetenland on behalf of German-speaking people. Went into Czechoslovakia on behalf of German-speaking people. So I’m pleased that Hillary Clinton has commented on it," he said.

But the senator also said that Clinton shares the blame with other administration officials for allowing the U.S. relationship with Russia to deteriorate. “The whole administration deserves blame, everybody, for the weakness and total misperception of the nature of Vladimir Putin. And pushing the reset button is certainly a graphic demonstration of that,” he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a potential 2016 presidential candidate, agreed that there are "similarities" between Putin and Hitler's approach.

“I think Nazi Germany stands on its own as a unique and barbaric government that’s probably known no peer in terms of its brutality," he told reporters Wednesday. "I think the point that she was making, that in terms of the claims that they needed to move into a neighboring country to protect an ethnic group tied to them is certainly similar to the argument that Hitler made in the 1930s.”

Asked by a reporter whether the Cold War was over, Rubio said that the conflict with the Soviet Union that ended more than 20 years ago is complete, "but totalitarianism isn’t. In fact, if you look at the countries that are creating uncertainty around the world, be it China’s territorial ambition or North Korea’s weapons program or Iran’s ambition in the Middle East or the unrest in Venezuela and throughout Latin America and of course the situation with the Russians, time and again it’s a totalitarian-leaning government that’s involved in creating this uncertainty. There is certainly an ongoing geopolitical competition between the majority of the countries in the world that want freedom and want to open economies and a handful of totalitarian governments who simply don’t play by the rules of accepted international behavior."

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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